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Published semiannually by 

the University Libraries 

and the College of Arts and Sciences 

at Western Illinois University 

Macomb, Illinois 61455 




JOHN E. HALLWAS, Chairman 


DAVID D. ANDERSON, Michigan State University 
MICHAEL BECKES, ////;;oz5 State Museum 
RICHARD W. CROCKETT, Western Illinois University 
RICHARD QKO'^XyER, Purdue University 
JAMES E. DAVIS Jllinois College 
RODNEY DAVIS, Knox College 
ARLIN D. FENTEM, Western Illinois University 
U\ROn}.¥OGDE,Augustana College 
FRANK W. GOUDY, Western Illinois University 
PEARCE S. GROVE, Western Illinois University 
THOMAS E. HELM, Western Illinois University 
WALTER B. HENDRICKSON,A/acMz/rrav College 
ROBERT JOHANNSEN, University of Illinois 
FREDERICK G. JONES, Western Illinois Universiti' 
JERRY KLEIN, 'Peoria Journal Star" 
CHARLES W. MAYER, Western Illinois Universin> 
DENNIS Q. McINERNY, Bradley University 
RONALD E. NELSON, District'Historian, 

Illinois Department of Consenmtion 
RONALD E. NELSON, Western Illinois University' 
RICHARD D. POLL, Western Illinois University 
STUART STRVEVER, Northwestern University 
ROALD D. TWEET, Augustana College 
WILLIAM L. \}R^KN Monmouth College 
ELLEN M. WHITNEY, Editor emeritus, 

"Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society' " 

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Correspondence about subscriptions, contributions, and books for review should be 
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Western Illinois University, Macomb, Illinois 61455. 




Primitivism and Paternalism: Early Denonninational 
Approaches in Western Illinois 

Myron J. Fogde 105 

The Black Hawk Purchase: Stimulus to the 
Settlement of Iowa, 1832-1851 

Ronald Ray man 141 

Wyatt Earp Was Born Here: Monmouth 
and the Earps, 1845-1859 

William Urban 154 

Robert G. Ingersoll and the Sensual Gods: 
An Unpublished Letter 

Mark A. Plummer 168 

Mine Union Radicalism in Macoupin 
and Montgomery Counties 

Victor Hicken 173 

Notes and Documents 192 

Reviews of Books 196 

Contributors 202 

Copyright 1980 by Western Illinois University 



By Robert W. Johannsen 196 


By Victor Hicken 1 98 


By Daniel T. Jotinson 199 

Hancock County Historical Society, 

By Gordana Rezab 200 


By Gordana Rezab 200 





Myron J. Fogde 

A common interpretation of American religious history views our 
pluralistic denominational pattern as having been imported from 
Europe, particularly the British Isles, and then having been adapted 
to the American environment.^ Accenting the effect of this 
environment on the centuries-old European religious traditions is the 
following observation: "It is not too much to say that in America 
space has played the part that time has played in the older cultures 
of the world," so that "the story of America is the story of uprooted 
emigrant and immigrant people ever moving rapidly onward through 
space so vast that space came to take precedence over time in the 
formation of their most cherished ideals."^ By the time Christian 
pioneers reached the banks of the Mississippi River, a great deal of 
space was already behind them. 

It is the thesis of this essay that an appropriate method of 
interpreting the arrival and early development of Christianity in 
Western Illinois is to investigate incoming denominational attitudes 
toward this area and determine how this affected the exposition of 
the faith. Supporting this approach is a recent upsurge in the study 
of regionalism as an appropriate context in which to seek an 
understanding of the American religious experience. ^ Aiding this 
endeavor is the fact that Western Illinois is in the middle of a region 
with a distinctive denominational pattern, characterized by no one 
dominant form of Christianity, but the presence in significant 
numbers of major Christian groups. This region extends from the 
Ohio-Pennsylvania border westward, primarily north of the Ohio 
River to the Mississippi River and then onward to the Nebraska 

Vividly portraying the urgency with which denominations 
entered this area is the statement of Lyman Beecher in a missionary 
tract entitled Plea for the West, published in Cincinnati in 1836: 

It is plain, that the religious and political destiny of our nation is to be 
decided in the West. There is the territory, and there will soon be the 
population, the wealth, and the political power. The Atlantic commerce 
and manufactures may confer always some peculiar advantage on the 



East. But the West is destined to be the great central power of the 
nation, and under heaven, must affect powerfully the cause of free 
institutions, and the liberty of the world.'* 

Though the intent of this tract was strongly influenced by Beecher's 
anti-Catholicism, it also served as a general stimulus to Protestant 
extension beyond the Appalachians. Stating this just as strongly, but 
without the anti-Catholic bias, was Bishop Philander Chase of the 
Illinois Diocese of the Episcopal Church. He wrote the following 
passage from Stephenson (Rock Island) on July 17, 1837, while on 
his first episcopal journey in Illinois: 

Let pass a few years, and all the busy, bustling first settlers of these 
beautiful places will be in their graves. And what will be the character 
and destiny of those who occupy their places, if nothing nnore be done 
than now appears, to form their manners and their hearts anew? O, let 
all true philanthropists remember that the Christian religion, the 
fountain of all hope for a happy immortality, is not, like the corruption 
of our nature, hereditary. It must be commenced anew in every heart. 
The links of the moral chain that connects it from father to child must 
not be suffered to rust, or be broken, for even one generation. On the 
contrary, they must be preserved by constant care, and be kept bright 
by unwearied exercise; or all will be lost, and our whole country will 
relapse into pagan error. ^ 

Two primary attitudes were expressed by the several 
denominations who consequently became active in this region in the 
nineteenth century: primitivism and paternalism. These attitudes 
provide a useful typology for understanding the role of religion in 
the development of all of nineteenth and twentieth-century America, 
but the focus of this essay will be limited to Western Illinois and the 
adjacent west bank of the Mississippi River. 


The primitivist point of view saw the area as a potential Garden 
of Eden, wherein men and women could start anew, tn breaking off 
old roots, they could quickly put down new ones in the virgin, fertile 
soil, roots no longer encrusted in the ways and traditions of the past. 
People could leave their past behind and bring with them only a few 
necessities on the flatboats, in the prairie schooners, or by railroad. It 
would truly be a new beginning in a virgin land. Purveyors of this 
romantic view seemingly did not suffer from heat and high humidity 
in the summer, or frostbite in the winter. They did not feel the bite 
of the mosquito, or inhale the smoke of a prairie fire. Neither 
clearing stumps, nor breaking prairie sod could keep them from their 
Utopian dream that here was a land still fresh from the Creator's 

Because the West was unspoiled by civilized life, such religionists 
hoped it would be possible to eliminate the historical accretions 
which had culturized and corrupted Christianity in Europe and 


which had been continued with some adaptation on the East Coast. 
With Christianity freed from such distortions, the New Jerusalem 
would appear. One group, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day 
Saints (the Mormons), insisted that this holy city would be built at 
Independence, Missouri. 

Expressive of this primitive renewal is the denomination known 
as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), which was initially 
formed in the Kentucky wilderness in the first decades of the 
nineteenth century, with its most noted developers being Thomas 
and Alexander Campbell. Referring to the movement as the 
"Restoration of the Ancient Order of Things," their motto became: 

Where the Bible speaks, we speak: 
Where the Bible is silent, we are silent. 6 

In a new land, the Campbells thought free people with the 
unadorned Word of God and the immediate presence of the Spirit 
could study and live the life of the New Testament era. In so doing 
they would recapture the purity and enthusiasm of the primitive 
Christian community. To such people, that earlier time was the 
Golden Era of Christianity, and it could be reconstructed in this 
region. Most of the pioneer preachers were men who felt they were 
sent by God and who were self-supporting in their endeavors. 
Expressive of the confidence of these men was one of their 
periodicals. The Millenial Harbinger. 

This concerted effort to reproduce Christianity by a faithful 
reconstruction of the religious community described in the pages of 
the New Testament was abetted by somewhat similar movements, 
one of which was spearheaded by Barton W. Stone, who arrived in 
the Jacksonville area in 1832 and who died there in 1844. These 
groups entered Illinois at the time it became a state, and by the 
1830's individual congregations began to merge these similar streams 
of Biblical Christianity into a single group, with the "Campbellite" 
influence the stronger. 

One of the earliest congregations to be established was the 
Antioch (Cantrall) Church, organized on May 15, 1820, in Sangamon 
County. Stephen England, who had known Stone in Kentucky, 
preached to his neighbors assembled in his home, and they signed a 
statement agreeing "that our constitution shall be the Holy 
Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, believing them to be the 
only rule of faith and practice."^ This strict Biblicism was also seen 
in the first church of this type organized in the Military Tract, on the 
Cedar Fork of the Henderson River in Warren County on April 30, 
1831. As Nathaniel S. Haynes has stated, "This church was 
constituted upon the belief that the Scriptures of the Old and New 
Testaments are the only rule of faith and practice and are sufficient 
for the government of the church. "^ 



Mt. Pleasant Christian Church, Hancock County. 

With the arrival of Stone in 1832, a rapid development of 
churches in Western Illinois took place, which was still evident in 
1913 when a listing of Disciple congregations in the state showed 
Hancock and Adams counties having twenty each, a total surpassed 
by only three other counties in the state.^ Aiding this growth had 
been the development of a state meeting, beginning in 1836, and the 
eventual employment of missionaries to promote the faith. 

Here was a major influence in Western Illinois Christianity that 
was not an import from Europe, but the further extension of an 
expression formulated a generation earlier in Kentucky. Despising 
the denominational label, the Disciples wished to be the community 
of all the faithful, adhering to simple Biblical practices. For this they 
were condemned by the Methodists and Baptists as having an 
insufficient grasp of spiritual experience and group discipline; and in 
fact, they were criticized by all other denominations as being 
without the benefit of the human experience embodied in historical 
traditions. This antagonism led to frequent public debates between 
Disciples and spokesmen for other denominations during the 
nineteenth century. 

A basic concern of this new group, to which anyone could 
submit by being immersed, was baptism. Simply by being baptized in 


obedience to the command of Christ a person had fulfilled the 
prerequisite for admission to the fellowship of the church. Still 
indicative of this understanding of the primitive faith is the setting 
for the baptismal ceremony in the Fifteenth Avenue Christian 
Church of Rock Island. From the pew the observer's eye falls upon a 
wall painting of a Jordan River scene, which carries the attention of 
the viewer to the baptismal waters at the base of the painting. 
Witnessing a baptism, a person's mind is transported back to the first 
century church. Also important is the weekly recapitulation of the 
Lord's Supper, as this was believed to have been the practice in the 
early church. Accenting this as a representation of the original meal 
is the annual recreation based on Leonardo de Vinci's famous 
painting, the Last Supper, done by the men's club of Memorial 
Christian Church of Rock Island, on Maundy Thursday evening. 
Adhering strictly to the Biblical commands to "go and baptize" and 
"do this in remembrance of me," the Disciples maintain a strong 
devotion to the primitive church pattern, so that the Christian can in 
his mind go back to the first century and relive the inspiration of 
that time in his own life. Furthermore, this denomination that 
originated in the early American West has continued its 
determination to recall the faith expressed in the Scriptural 
testimony. In so doing, it intends to offer this region a form of faith 
that is able, without the later cultural restrictions, to nurture 
succeeding generations by the power of the unhindered Spirit. 

Appearing in southern Illinois as early as the 1790's were the 
Baptists. Whereas primitivism for the Disciples of Christ was the 
reconstruction of the first century church in the American 
wilderness, for the Baptists it was also the espousal of the faith as 
perceived by largely uneducated people in their reading of the 
Scripture and their own personal experience. However, in addition, 
the Baptists often espoused a spiritual elitism by insisting that only 
the elect of God could respond to the preaching of the Gospel. Still, 
the Baptist congregation was structurally an expression of frontier 
democracy. The frequent pattern of congregational initiation was 
exhibited when a man possessed of the natural ability to speak would 
farm six days of the week, and on the seventh would invite his 
neighbors in and preach to them the simple Biblical truths. If the 
group found him inspiring, they might organize an autonomous 
Baptist congregation and elect the farmer-preacher as their minister. 
This would set in motion the machinery for self-discipline within the 
group, and a neighborhood Baptist church was the result. 

Indicative of this pattern in Western Illinois is this brief account 
of the formation of the Hennipen and Granville Baptist Church: "A 
few Baptist brethren and sisters within the bounds of this church, 
about 14 in number, were gathered together and constituted in April, 



Baptist missionary John Mason Peck. 


1837, by elder Thomas Powell, who immediately assumed the 
pastoral charge of this church."^ *^ Similar is the story of Elder 
Jonathan Miner. According to Gilbert S. Bailey, Miner "removed to 
Illinois in 1837. He immediately commenced preaching to the people 
in his new home [Lafayette] , and continued to labor in the ministry 
until his death, which occurred August 20, 1844."^ ^ The church at 
Lafayette was organized by Miner on June 15, 1839, but he shared 
the pastoral duties with a fellow member. Elder Otis, who "preached 
much within its bounds." However, Miner extended his work, for 
"he labored as a pioneer in gathering up new churches, and visiting 
destitute fields. He did not require nor receive much pecuniary aid 
from the churchs. He said, 'I want to hear the prayers and 
exhortations of my brethern; this will be my pay.' " 

Because of the autonomy of each congregation, it was easy for a 
number of congregations to appear in a small area. Eventually, 
groups of churches formed associations with divergent theological 
understandings but similar denominational consciousness. The first 
was the Illinois Union, which had been formed as early as 1807. 

An outstanding figure in Baptist work in Illinois was John Mason 
Peck. In 1818 he arrived in the new state as the first Baptist 
missionary supported by the eastern Missionary Society. Though the 
Society had to withdraw its support the following year on the 
ground of insufficient funds. Peck soon became the agent of the 
Massachusetts Missionary Society and moved permanently to St. 
Clair County. Here he founded an Illinois missionary society called 
the "United Society for the Spread of the Gospel." Through this 
organization Peck was active in finding preachers, often from the 
East, to work in Illinois. 

Soon the Baptist communion in I llinois was rent asunder over the 
issue of missionaries. By 1824 the Illinois Union had become 
anti-mission, and in 1830 the Apple Creek Anti-mission Association 
was formed in Western Illinois. An astute historian of early 
nineteenth-century American religion has commented: 
"anti-missionism was largely a frontier movement. It was strongest 
where educational facilities were lacking and where people were out 
of touch with the usual cultural influences. Generally the 
anti-mission Baptists were ultra-Calvinistic in doctrine, were opposed 
to academic or theological education for the ministry, and were 
hostile to all societies for the promotion of the spiritual and social 
welfare of mankind."^ 2 

Behind this antagonism was the primitivistic objection to 
centralization of authority. There were those who insisted the 
Baptist Church must rise from the soil of the frontier as a faithful 
witness to the Spirit of God in this place. Such persons charged the 
missionaries with bringing eastern influences to bear on this frontier. 


a form of paternalism in this primitivistic area. Also closely related to 
this same dichotomy was the anti-mission opposition to an educated 
and paid ministry. There was jealously here, but also the fear that 
such missionaries would bring to an end the indigenous church of the 
largely uneducated farmer-preacher. Supporting this in Western 
Illinois is the comment Peck made in 1823 at the Sangamon 
Association meeting: "There is a regular conspiracy formed in the 
Illinois Union to put down missionaries. The root of all this 
opposition is from the preachers. They fear losing their influence, 
which must be small indeed."^ ^ Also significant in the attack on 
missionary societies was the concern that they had no scriptural 
foundation and thus were cultural additions that only led to the 
distortion of the faith. Finally, the hyper-Calvinism of the 
anti-missionists was useful, as it forcibly argued that God needed no 
outside agents to bring the elect to repentence. The elect individual 
would respond to his neighbor's exposition of the Word. 

Influenced by the anti-missionism of Alexander Campbell— at one 
time a Baptist, but so influential in the forming of the Disciples of 
Christ— some Baptists developed a decided aversion to any attempt to 
impose an eastern form of faith on Illinois society. Yet John M. Peck 
worked with others against this trend, supporting missionaries and 
the creation of schools, and he also took an active leadership in the 
anti-slavery movement. Exemplifying his mission concern was the 
organization of the Green County Auxiliary Bible Society in 1824 
for the purpose of distributing copies of the Scriptures and other 
devotional literature. He thought that this would be the "death blow 
to opposition to the missionaries,"^'^ because even the anti-mission 
Baptists could not oppose the distribution of the Scriptures in a land 
where they were so lacking. Peck expected that with this spread of 
God's Word would come a desire for regular preaching. 

The first state convention took place in the same county in 1834, 
amid the recognition that there were distinct differences among the 
Baptists. But in this area of the state just being settled by immigrants 
from the east there was probably a more favorable attitude toward 
missionary enterprises, educational interests, and also benevolent 
societies.^ ^ This is demonstrated by the Sangamon Association 
meeting at Pleasant Grove in 1835, which adopted a resolution 
declaring non-fellowship with all who advocated the cause of 
missionaries, temperance societies, and sabbath schools. In response 
to this was the creation of the Illinois River Baptist Association on 
November 2, 1836, in Peoria, to actively support the Peck faction of 
Baptists.^ 6 Thus, it is evident that even in early Illinois there was the 
Baptist proliferation that has so marked this denomination in the 
Prairie State and elsewhere. By 1857 it was estimated that in Illinois 
there were 30,000 mission supporters and 5,000 anti-mission 


advocates.^ ^ 

In many communities the first expression of Christianity was the 
result of Methodist endeavors. For these people, primitivism was the 
molding of a society out of the raw materials of the frontier, based 
on the premise that God intended such a Christian order to be raised 
up among the people in the situation in which they were living. While 
proclaiming a democratic Gospel, this denomination was also aided 
by a rigid, yet efficient, institutional format. Building on a theology 
expressed by the eighteenth-century Anglican divine, John Wesley, 
this denomination taught the Biblical interpretation that all men are 
intended for salvation. Every person has within him, even if it 
appears very infrequent in some, the desire to be better than he is. 
When an individual becomes aware of this and tries to improve, he 
will have some success, but will soon learn of his inability to fulfill 
his goals. This is a condition caused by his separation from God. 
When he realizes this, he then ought to be like the Prodigal Son in 
the story of Jesus, who, when he realized the degradation of his own 
situation apart from his loving father, decided to return and place 
himself at the mercy of his parent. However, when the father saw the 
son trudging homeward, he ran and embraced him. To Methodism 
the maturation of this restored relationship should eventually reach 
the point wherein the individual senses only the presence and 
inspiration of the Father's Spirit. Such a person has attained 
perfection— not that he scores perfectly on every moral or religious 
test, but that he consciously knows of no other motivation in his life 
than the Spirit of God. This theology merged well with the 
nineteenth-century American idealism which said that the object of 
American society was to provide the environment in which every 
individual could develop to the fullest every latent potentiality. 

Efficiency is the term to designate the institutional machinery 
developed to spread this Methodist Gospel of Invitation to return to 
the Father's House. An army of young bachelors under the close 
supervision of presiding elders (themselves under the direction of 
area bishops), criss-crossed the prairies and woodlands on a circuit 
system, which provided for Methodist preaching on a regular, though 
perhaps infrequent, schedule everywhere in the West. No matter 
where a settler went, it was not long before a Methodist circuit rider 
was in the area, preaching in a home, at a school, in the saloon, or if 
need be, in a barn or under a shade tree. Expressive of this in Western 
Illinois is the career of the colorful Peter Cartwright. He felt that 
"the great mass of western people wanted a preacher that could 
mount a stump, a block, or old log, or stand on the bed of a wagon, 
and without note or manuscript, quote, expound, and apply the 
Word of God to the hearts and consciences of the people."^ ^ In his 
preaching he could depict hell so vividly that the startled sinner in his 


i W^ 

Methodist preacher Peter Cartwright. 


imagination could see the fiery billows roll along, one after another, 
hear the ponderous iron doors open and creak upon their rusty 
hinges, and the rusty bolts slide back and forth as the lost and 
damned were shut into the seething lake of burning 
brimstone J ^ However, it was not the desire to preach hell that 
motivated Cartwright, but rather, the desire to make more clear the 
love that God has for all men, to save them from such an experience. 
Cartwright loved all men, and he was determined to speak to them in 
ways which would leave an impression upon their hearts and would 
inspire them to seek the Lord. 

The small classes that were organized by the intinerant preachers 
were composed of Methodist pioneers and persons touched by the 
peripetic preachers. These became the local nuclei of the Methodist 
presence, and meeting frequently under the discipline of lay leaders, 
they established the groundwork for an eventual congregation. 
Composed of enough classes to ask for the appointment of a local 
preacher, who could well be a circuit rider who had married and now 
dismounted in favor of a more permanent location, congregations 
could soon be flourishing. 

With a frequent change of ministers so that no preacher came 
under the influence of the congregation, the Methodist Church 
offered a prophetic voice, calling all men, women, and children to 
the higher plane of Christian living. In Western Illinois, as in the 
American West as a whole, Methodism veered from the cultural 
standards of John Wesley to become increasingly an indigenous 
American expression of Christianity. Applying his understanding of 
Biblical theology, the Methodist preacher sought to create out of the 
raw materials of the American frontier an expression of faith attuned 
to the character and aspirations of the settlers. This was, of course, 
the essence of Christian primitivism. 

Accenting this is the commentary of Cartwright at the arrival in 
Springfield of a Presbyterian minister in 1824. He describes him as 

a very well educated man, and had regularly studied theology in some 
of the Eastern states, where they manufacture young preachers like 
they do lettuce in hot houses. He brought with him a number of old 
manuscript sermons, and read them to the people; but as to common 
sense, he had very little, and he was almost totally ignorant of the 
manners and usages of the world, especially this new Western world; yet 
he came here to evangelize and Christianize us poor heathen. 20 

Cartwright acknowledges that soon the minister understood that he 
could not adapt to Illinois, but his did not stop the circuit rider from 
telling the new arrival to "quit reading old manuscript sermons, and 
learn to speak extemporaneously; that the Western people were born 
and reared in hard times, and were an out-spoken and off-hand 
people; that if he did not adopt this manner of preaching, the 
Methodists would set the whole Western world on fire before he 


could light his match." With tongue in cheek, Cartwright concludes 
his analysis: "He tried it a while, but became discouraged, and left 
for parts unknown." What was needed in Illinois were religious 
leaders who sought not to impose eastern ways, but to inspire the 
natural goodness that was resident in the settlers. 

More than other groups, the Methodists employed the camp 
meeting as a tool of Christian mission and nurture. Further developing 
these religious meetings orginating in eastern Kentucky at the turn of 
the nineteenth century, the Methodists used a technique that was 
quite successful, particularly during the first generation of 
settlement. At these great open air meetings, which could last from a 
few days to a week or more, large numbers of people would gather 
for intense socialization as well as religious experience. As the nights 
wore on, a powerful preacher extolling the terrors of hell in the 
midst of the torchlit camp grounds would suddenly shift his tone and 
articulate the glories of heaven. In so doing he would wear down the 
will of many an auditor. People often responded with considerable 
physical agitation to being moved by the Spirit. 

Cartwright vividly describes an 1827 camp meeting held near 
Whitehall, in Green County: 

On Sunday night I mounted the stand, took my text, and, though I had 
loaded in a hurry, drew the bow at a venture, and let fly arrows in 
almost all directions; some laughed, some cried; some became angry; 
some ran; some cursed me right out; some shouted; some fell to the 
earth; and there was a general uproar throughout the whole 
encampment. Our meeting lasted all night, and the slain of the Lord 
were many. 21 

The Methodist preachers realized that such conversions could indeed 
be short lived. A repentant sinner was not immediately admitted to 
membership. Writing about a revival in Warsaw in 1853, Cartwright 
observed, "We give every sinner a chance, and take them on 
probation for six months, not as members, but under the care of the 
Church, on trial for membership; and surely, if they do not in that 
time give satisfactory evidence of their sincerity and fitness for 
membership, it is not likely they ever will."22 He then notes that if 
at the end of this time they do not display Christian growth "we 
simply drop them . . . [and] leave them where we found them; we 
have at least tried to do them good, and have done them no harm." 
The Methodist revival inspired a frontiersman to express the 
goodness inherent within him, and then the discipline of the 
denomination gave him opportunity to nurture his belief and thus 
develop an indigenous faith. 

The most American of the religious groups present in Western 
Illinois in the nineteenth century was the Church of Jesus Christ of 
Latter-day Saints. To the Mormons, primitivism amounted to 
reestablishing in the western hemisphere the church that had gone 


awry in the eastern hemisphere in the fourth century. Formally 
organized in upstate New York in 1830, the Mormon Church was 
headquartered in Nauvoo from 1839 to 1846. Preaching a gospel 
which asserted that "Man is a god in embryo," Mormons expressed 
hope in the infinite development of the human personality. ^ 3 This 
concept is stated in a catechetical fashion: 

We believe in a God who is Himself progressive, whose perfection 
consists in eternal advancement— a Being who has attained His exalted 
state by a path which now His children are permitted to follow, whose 
glory it is their heritage to share. ... As man is, God once was; as God 
is, man may be. 24 

In the Mormon Church primitivism and perfectionism were blended 
more thoroughly than in any other group. This mixture centered 
about a charismatic, self-proclaimed prophet, Joseph Smith, who also 
brought to light a scripture that claimed to be the record of God's 
people in the western hemisphere {The Book of Mormon). This 
religion was then developed in a hierarchial and disciplined 
institution and community. The Mormons brought to Western 
Illinois a faith that blossomed at Nauvoo, but at the same time, the 
larger the community became, the more it was feared and harassed 
by neighbors. 

The definitive development of the faith occured under the 
leadership of America's greatest colonizer, Brigham Young, who led 
the persecuted Saints to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake following 
the death of the prophet in the Carthage jail at the hands of enraged 
Hancock County residents in June, 1844. In the frontier of the 
intermountain West, this religion was able to inspire men and women 
to make the desert blossom as a rose, and to bring to maturity this 
indigenous faith which combined revealed religion and American 

Mormonism does not have a European background. It was 
influenced in part by Sidney Rigdon, a one time associate of 
Alexander Campbell in the early Disciple movement, who also 
became an associate of Joseph Smith. Within these two groups, 
native to the American West, the primitivist point of view reached its 
culmination. The popular Mormon hymn, "Come, Come, Ye Saints," 
composed by William Clayton in Iowa on April 15, 1846, at the start 
of the exodus to the Great Salt Lake Valley, poetically expresses this 
faith as it was nurtured in Western Illinois: 

Come, come ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear; 
But with joy wend your way. 
Though hard to you this journey may appear, 
Grace shall be as your day 
'Tis better far for us to strive 
Our useless cares from us to drive; 
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell- 
All is well: all is well: 


Why should we mourn to think our lot is hard 
'Tis not so; all is right. 

Why should we think to earn a great reward, 
If we now shun the fight? 
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take; 
Our God will never us forsake; 
And soon we'll have this tale to tell- 
All is well: all is well: 

We'll find the place which God for us prepared. 
Far away in the West, 

Where none shall come to hurt or make afraid; 
There the Saints will be blessed. 
We'll make the air with music ring. 
Shout praises to our God and King; 
Above the rest these words we'll tell- 
All is well: all is well: 

And should we die before our journey's through, 

Happy day: all is well: 

We then are free from toil and sorrow, too; 

With the just we shall dwell: 

But if our lives are spared again to see the Saints 

their rest obtain, 
O how we'll make this chorus swell- 
All is well; all is well: 

In marked contrast to the primitivist attitude were the 
denominations representing the point of view designated 
"paternalism." The major thrust of this orientation was to assert that 
ongoing history was the arena of the activity of God. There was no 
golden age to be reconstructed, nor would a Utopia be fashioned 
upon the earth. Rather, the Spirit of God inspired individuals and 
cultures as they struggled through the vissicitudes of life. Each age 
saw Christianity adapt cultural features which were thought to 
enhance its meaning for people; and as civilizations advanced, what 
had been once meaningful became so incorporated into the fabric of 
the religion that rarely was anything discarded. 

So it is that paternalistic denominations active in Western Illinois 
have sought to establish and maintain Christian congregations which 
not only express a particular religious understanding, but do so in an 
established cultural setting. The common attitude of these 
denominations toward the early and developing frontier was 
expressed by the Connecticut Congregational theologian, Horace 
Bushnell. Writing a missionary tract for the American Home 
Missionary Society in 1847, entitled Barbarism, the First Danger, he 
looked out upon the frontier and did not see an environment 
conducive to the rearing of Christian youth. Instead, he asserted 
that when people move westward they become uprooted, and in 
their new location, even if they settle permanently, it is a long time. 


perhaps two or three generations, before new roots are thrust down. 
During the intervening period, men, women and children degenerate 
to a much lower level of civilization. Unconsciously at first, even 
men and women of religious intent have this experience. But 
Bushnell also contended that many people who move to the West are 
already devoid of religious principles, and the raw conditions of the 
frontier make their condition even worse. He also saw this situation 
compounded by the presence of Roman Catholic missionaries, who 
espoused a religion and culture that was despised by this Yankee and 
taught a monarchial way of life that was an anathema to this 

On the positive side, Bushnell is remembered for his work in 
Christian nurture. In the development of a Christian personality, he 
said it is best to assume that a child should never realize he has ever 
been anything but a Christian. What is needed is not a vital 
conversion experience, but a developing and maturing of the attitude 
which is instilled in him, not only in a Christian home, but in a 
religious community. This is similar to the struggle that was going on 
in some denominations, such as the Presbyterian, and between the 
primitivist and paternalistic groups in general— the struggle between 
the "way of the revival" and the "way of the catechism" as the 
proper form to instill and nurture the Christian life. 

Early examples of the paternalistic attitude are to be found in 
the Congregational and Presbyterian denominations. In the early 
nineteenth century, these two largely "Yankee" denominations, 
espousing a similar theological outlook, but having differing 
institutional structures, sought to share the mission field so that 
where one went the other did not go for sometime. Hence, in Moline 
an early Congregational church and two later ones are seen, while in 
Rock Island several Presbyterian churches are evident, but no 
Congregational churches. 

In addition to the Plan of Union of 1801, the American Home 
Missionary Society, formed in 1826, was used by both 
denominations for over ten years to extend these paternalistic groups 
unto the Illinois prairies. After that time, increased denominational 
consciousness led the Presbyterians to rely on their own agencies for 
expansion. Initially these home missionaries often regarded 
themselves as the bearers of the true religion, and went so far as to 
list places where there were no Congregational or Presbyterian 
ministrations as "destitute," even though primitivist denominations 
were active in such communities. In the work of these missionaries, a 
distinct New England flavor was imparted as they consciously sought 
to transplant the folkways and institutions of New England and New 
York.2 5 

Typical of these two groups was the coming of a minister to 
preach to a single congregation and perhaps to conduct a school. To 


also insure the stability of a Christian culture, the minister and 
congregation tended to appeal to only that part of the population 
which would appreciate the rich heritage their faith had to offer for 
the enhancement of life. Writing in Illinois, Lyman Beecher stated: 
"It is of vast importance to settle in each county as soon as possible. 
Let us drive to this point. This is the object: to place one missionary 
in every county and six or eight pious families . . . without any loss 
to New England. Show them what a field there is to grow in grace by 
doing good. I mean to bring on a colony with me."26 

This policy also suggests a particular form of frontier penetration 
traceable to the early Middle Ages in England and on the 
continent— that is, the sending out of religious colonies. The earliest 
example of the colony approach in Western Illinois can be traced to 
this notice in the Hampshire Gazette on February 9, 1831 : 

Illinois Colonial Association 

A Meeting of the above association 

will be holden at 


Northampton, Masschussetts 

on Wednesday, the 1 6th, at 1 0: 00 A.M. 

Persons desirous of uniting with them are 

invited to attend this meeting. 

Per order of committee 

D. B. Jones, Sec'y.^^ 

At the meeting it was agreed by a number of associates to remove to 
some part of the state of Illinois in the ensuing spring. To develop a 
plan for this transfer, a constitution was prepared with this 

Whereas the subject of settling the valley of the Mississippi by colonies 
of industrious and moral men from the Atlantic States is viewed to be 
of vast importance to the future of the inhabitants of that valley and to 
the common good of our country by many of the sons of the Pilgrim 
Fathers of New England, and — 

Whereas a number of persons in the old county of Hampshire are 
desirous of emigrating to some part of the State of Illinois for the 
purpose of better providing for themselves and their families, provided 
the privileges of a social, moral and religious character which they have 
now, and which they highly value, can be made secure to them in their 
future residence. 

Now, therefore, for the purpose of accomplishing the above objects, the 
undersigned do form themselves into an association and adopt the 
following constitution. . . .28 

Ebenezer Phelps, a deacon in the Northampton church, pressed 
the need for the organization of a church before the colonists 
departed if indeed the religious objectives were to be met. This was 
accomplished on March 23, 1831, with the name "Hampshire Colony 
Church" being selected. 

The main body of the colony met in Albany and embarked in a 
canal boat at the beginning of May, and after a difficult two-month 


journey, they arrived at their new home on the Bureau River in 
Putnam County. Naming the settlement "Greenfield," the church 
met only irregularly until the later part of October and did not 
construct a church building until 1834. This frame structure was 
described as having been built "in the true New England and Pilgrim 
style. "29 The first resident minister, Rev. Lucien Farnham, arrived in 
October, 1835, and thus came into function the first Congregational 
church in Illinois. ^° 

Rev. Farnham and the majority were strongly abolitionist, and so 
the minority were given permission to leave and in 1844 formed the 
Independent Congregational Church, which became the First 
Presbyterian Church of Princeton (as the town was by then known). 
The original congregation remained staunchly abolitionist, especially 
under the leadership of Owen Lovejoy, who served as minister during 
this period (1838-1855). 

This is an example of the paternalistic determination to carry an 
eastern civilization to the prairies of Illinois. As the Record Book of 
the Hampshire Colony Church indicates, many of the ministers of 
the church were not even American born, but were natives of 
England, Wales, or Scotland. ^^ 

In nineteenth-century Illinois, Henry County alone was to receive 
five such colonies from the Congregational-Presbyterian tradition. 
The one most easily studied today is Geneseo. The congregation was 
organized in Genesee County, New York in 1836, and the members 
of the congregation-colony all came to the prairies of Illinois, there 
to establish a beacon in an unsettled land which would shine the light 
of the Congregational Christian culture across these vast areas. Even 
today, in spite of what the later arrival of the railroad did to the 
community, one can get the impression of a New England town 
centered around the village green. The history of Geneseo Colony 
and the development of the Congregational Church of Geneseo were 
so closely connected that, for many, to speak of one meant the other 
also. Their interests were interwoven for twenty years. 

Soon to aid in this cause were the schools of this persuasion, such 
as the Manual Labor High School at Geneseo and the Manual Labor 
College at Galesburg, later named Knox College. The formation of 
the latter school is the story of Reverend George W. Gale of Adams, 
New York, who in 1834 sought to instruct a group in emigrating for 
the purpose of founding a city and erecting a manual labor college. 
By December, 1836, forty families had reached Galesburg, and the 
state legislature granted college and city charters on February 15, 
1837. This was the best organized of the colonial enterprises, and the 
college was a union institution in whose advancement New School 
Presbyterians and Congregationalists collaborated.^ ^ 

An example of the non-colony mission activity is the Pope's 
River Presbyterian Church near Aledo, which during its somewhat 



First Congregational Church and Seminary, Geneseo, in 1865. 

Pope Creek Presbyterian Church, Mercer County. 


short congregational life (1837-1869) parented or grandparented 
eight congregations. The original building still stands as a retreat 
center, a silent witness to a ministry well-done. In fact, few counties 
in the nation are as Presbyterian as Mercer, showing the perseverance 
of this tradition in Western Illinois. This development is attributed to 
the settlement of Mercer County inland from the Mississippi River 
after the close of the Black Hawk War in 1832. At that time farmers 
and tradesmen from Ohio and Pennsylvania began to arrive. The first 
trading post in the county was started in New Boston in 1835 and 
was owned by a strict Scottish Seceder. According to the History of 
Mercer County, "So correct was he in his views of the Sabbath that 
he penned up his rooster on that day that he might not disturb the 
holy day. "2 2 In early 1836 Reverend John Montgomery was sent to 
the present Sherrard area by the Home Board of the Presbyterian 
General Assembly to work under the guidance of the newly formed 
Schuyler Presbytery. Later in that same year, Thomas and Robert 
Candor, the former a brother-in-law of Montgomery, arrived from 
Pennsylvania, followed by their families. Strongly committed to Old 
School Presbyterianism, these families organized what was then the 
most western Presbyterian church in the United States, the Pope's 
River Church. ^^^ This congregation was dedicated to preserving the 
Scotch-Irish faith that the Candors had brought to the United States 
from Northern Ireland in 1740, 

However, there had also arrived some New School Presbyterians 
who were more committed to revivalism and a somewhat 
primitivistic approach to religion. It was at this time that the 
Presbyterian Church divided, as shown by the split in the Illinois 
Synod, which met in Peoria in 1838. In the 1840's, other forms of 
Presbyterianism organized congregations in Mercer County, and the 
expansion of this denomination continued so that even today Mercer 
and Menard Counties have proportionately the highest Presbyterian 
concentrations in lllinois.^s The session records of Mercer County 
Presbyterian churches unfold the tale of the Presbyterian emigrants 
to this county and their determination to see the coming generations 
nurtured in this faith and marrying only within Presbyterianism, thus 
keeping this tradition intact.^ ^ But it is a tradition that has been in 
tension, as some forms of Presbyterianism favor a much more strict 
adherence to the paternalistic attitude, while others have a sense of 
kinship with the primivitistic orientation. 

In the last years of the eighteenth century there were those who 
were tolling the death bell for the Episcopal church, the 
denomination which had just been severed organizationally from its 
parent, the Church of England. The story of this denomination in the 
early decades of the nineteenth century is indeed not a story of 
numerical growth, but rather of sustained determination, as 


individual congregations did come into existence and dioceses were 
slowly formed. 

The Episcopal Church was the most paternalistically oriented 
of those with an English background. It thus sought even more 
intensely to impose upon Western Illinois the cultural outlook of the 
historic church. Working against this was the fact that not many of 
those loyal to the Church emigrated to Western Illinois and Eastern 
Iowa, In addition to the paucity of loyal churchmen and women, 
there was also the added difficulty of appealing to scattered persons 
who had neither interest in nor affection for the Episcopal order, 
with its English antecedents. There were many who openly disliked 
the Church. Also there were those who had once been within the 
bosom of the Church but who now resisted every official effort to 
reclaim them. 

A further hindrance to the work was the fact that the workers 
were pitifully few and not always able to adjust to the society they 
found. Some clergymen who might have adapted well would not 
come to the frontier because there was not sufficient promise of 
support. In Iowa as well as Illinois this made imperative a decision 
announced by Bishop Kemper to the Iowa Diocese in 1854: "Owing 
to the great scarcity of clergymen, an evil under which the church 
has labored for many years, and over the sad effect of which every 
congregation in the Diocese has great cause to mourn, we shall only 
be able for a long period to come, to direct our attention to these 
important places (six towns with organized parishes) in which 
Episcopalians are to be found. "^^ Carrying the point further is the 
Rev. John Batchelder, a pioneer priest in Burlington, Iowa who had 
founded the first Episcopal parish in Illinois, at Jacksonville. He writes 
in his parish report for 1857 concerning the lack of clergy and the 
low salaries: "they are all the legitimate results of the wretched 
system of clerical starvation, which the church, with her boasted 
wealth, hath seen fit to adopt. And still she calls for men of ability, 
men of education, to promote her interests and to extend her 
borders."-^ ^ Yet in the same report this pioneer priest writes: 
"Members of our Church I find scattered through every community, 
and settled in almost every neighborhood. By due care these 
scattered families will become nuclei of future churches, I know of 
no material obstacles to our having flourishing churches in most rural 
districts, but our inexcusable apathy and unwarranted disposition to 
depreciate their importance. While the money is chiefly given to the 
towns and villages, a clergyman in the country has ample 
opportunities to preach the Gospel to far greater numbers of people, 
than he would preach to, confined within the limits of a 
corporation. "3 9 However, broader contact was not to develop for 
this paternalistic denomination, as it did for the primitivists. 

The Episcopal attitude toward the region is seen in the 



Courtesy of Virginias H. Chase Special Collections Center, Bradley University Library. 

Bishop Philander Chase. Engraving by J. P. Quilley, based on 1824 
portrait by J. G. Strutt. 


organization of the dioceses in Illinois and Iowa, It was on March 9, 
1835 that the Primary Convention of the Illinois Diocese was 
convened in Peoria and Philander Chase was elected bishop. Having 
resigned the Ohio bishophric and residing without jurisdiction in 
Michigan, Bishop Chase saw this election as a call from God and once 
again took up the rigors of a frontier Episcopal Bishop. In his case 
the work was made even more difficult by his own convictions. 
Having been converted to the Episcopal Church by his study of the 
Prayer Book, he was doubly disappointed by popular indifference to 
this treasury of devotion. He wrote concerning Illinois Episcopalians 
from Dixon's Ferry on July 4, 1837: 

I cannot refrain from remarking, that I have met with more 
discouragement, in pressing the use of our Prayer Book on the 
congregation in general, from the disrespect of our own people to their 
own rules, than from most other sources. Many persons professing to be 
Episcopalians do not kneel in time of confession and prayer; and this 
directly in the face of the rubric. Others see this. How keen is the 
report: "Reform your own people before you can expect us to join 
you; your rules are scriptural and good, but they are a dead letter, or 
they would, ere this, have had a pious influence on those that own 
them to be rules of their conduct. "^^ 

In the same year (1835) that the Illinois parish representatives 
elected a bishop, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church 
authorized the election of Missionary Bishops, who were to go to 
areas of the West where there were no organized parishes. This was a 
dramatic change in the thinking of this denomination. Instead of the 
bishophric being the capstone of a structure of independently 
established congregations in a state, the bishop was now to be the 
first representative of the Church to an area. He would bring with 
him the full presence of the Church and, from the top, seek out 
places to establish parishes and then secure men to work and the 
funds to support them. Bishop Chase expressed his strong support 
for this move in his address to the 1838 Illinois Diocesan convention, 
lamenting that it had not happened earlier in Illinois.'^'' As it was, 
the Illinois Diocese had been organized after an Episcopal presence 
of just two years in the state and the establishment of only four 
parishes. At that 1835 national convention Jackson Kemper was 
elected a Missionary Bishop to the West, including the area within 
the Black Hawk Purchase, which in 1833 allowed white settlement 
westward some fifty miles from the Mississippi River into what was 
to become the state of Iowa. 

As a result of the new mission approach, by 1838 the Domestic 
Committee of the Episcopal Church could report three mission 
stations had been selected on the west bank of the Mississippi, and 
two years later a parish was organized in Burlington. The Rev. John 
Batchelder was supported in part by funds from the Philadelphia 
Association for Mission Work in the West, and certain eastern 


parishes made direct contributions to developing Iowa mission 
stations. Eleven years later there were still only four resident clergy 
in the new state, serving five parishes. In 1853 six Episcopal 
clergymen in Iowa petitioned Bishop Kemper to establish a diocese 
in the state. The following year, on May 31, seven clergymen serving 
eight parishes and two preaching points, with a total communicant 
membership of 167, met for the first annual Diocesean Convention 
in Davenport.'^^ jn 1855 Bishop Henry W. Lee arrived to begin a 
nearly twenty-year episcopate. 

The change in missionary method had not made much change in 
the impact this denomination was making in Iowa as compared to 
Illinois. In the former, the pioneers of the first two decades had 
primarily been emigrants from states immediately to the east, with 
the dominant influence being southern. This contrasted with a more 
northern influence in Western Illinois. With the building in 1856 of 
the first railroad bridge across the Mississippi, connecting Rock 
Island and Davenport, Iowa was opened to a much more rapid 
growth. This included representation from the eastern areas of vital 
Episcopalianism, yet the immediate impact of this was delayed by 
the depression of 1857 and the Civil War. Shortly after the 
conclusion of that conflict, plans for building a cathedral in 
Davenport took solid shape. On June 27, 1867, the cornerstone was 
laid for Grace Cathedral (now called Trinity), and the edifice was 
completed and consecrated on June 18, 1868. This building 
embodies the paternalistic attitude. The design is Victorian Gothic, 
the type then being used in the significant upsurge of church building 
in mid and late nineteenth-century England. The contemporaneity of 
the style to that of the Church of England is not, however, carried 
through in the building materials. Instead of the brick then being 
used in England, Davenport's church is constructed of stone, the 
material used in the building of England's great cathedrals in the 
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. From the point of view of 
materials, the church conveys the impression that it has been here 
since the voyages of Columbus. It was quite a spectacle for the 
residents and visitors in this frontier river town to see the large 
chunks of stone being hauled up Brady Street hill to the site of this 
English fortress. Further demonstrating the paternalism in this 
church is the inclusion behind the pulpit of a stone from 
England's Canterbury Cathedral (whose origins date to the last 
decade of the sixth century). So it is that Episcopalianism represents 
the epitomy of imposing upon Western Illinois and Eastern Iowa the 
English language version of traditional European Christianity. 

Paternalism was a strong orientation in continental European 
groups which immigrated to Western Illinois. With these people the 
cultural baggage was of even more importance. For some, the 



Grace (Trinity) Episcopal Cathedral, Davenport. 

religious elennent served not only their spiritual needs, but also 
markedly served as a cohesive force to aid in retaining some of their 
meaningful social customs and traditions while the adjustment was 
made to the American way of life. 

German Lutherans had been immigrating to America since the 
colonial days, and had been divided into several institutional 
expressions of Lutheran synodical affiliations. Some of these had 
adapted increasingly American characteristics, particularly the 
English language and dominant American Protestant theological 
motifs. Others retained a stronger interest in German cultural 
patterns and continental Lutheran theology. Both these types were 
to be found in Western Illinois, but the Germans who most ardently 
adhered to the parternalistic pattern were the Saxons who arrived in 
Missouri in 1838. With the organization of the "German Evangelical 
Synod of Missouri, Ohio and other States" in Chicago in 1847, these 
Lutherans had a denominational vehicle to establish congregations in 
Western Illinois. 

Under the leadership of Martin Stephan, these "Old Lutherans" 
had suffered a generation of persecution for their refusal to be 
incorporated into the Prussian Union Church established by the 
Prussian Crown in 1817. Claiming adherence only to Lutheranism as 


it had developed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, these 
Germans wanted no part of a church which formally included the 
Reformed tradition. While factors other than religion were involved 
in the decision to come to America, religion had the most direct 
influence on the decision.'*^ 

The organization of the Missouri Synod in less than a decade after 
the church's arrival gave testimony to the determination of these 
Lutherans. The Synod was founded by and for immigrants from 
Germany, not as a branch of some German church but as a separate, 
independent, designedly American church body. The accent was 
clearly on the German language because the doctrinal symbols— such 
as Luther's translation of the Bible, his catechisms, and the 
composite collection of Lutheran documents, the Book of 
Concord— were to be read and taught in German. Thus the objective 
of the Synod was to missionize among German-speaking people in 
the name of pure Lutheranism. Abetting this cause was the provision 
of the Synod constitution that no congregation or parish could 
become a member of the Synod unless it maintained a school for its 
children. This has led to the largest American Protestant parochial 
school system. 

With this determination to preserve true Lutheranism in German 
congregations augmented by parish schools, a pattern had to be 
developed to establish such congregations. At the first meeting of the 
Synod, a "visitor" was appointed, whose task was to travel around to 
the new settlements and to lend whatever counsel and assistance he 
could for the organization of congregations and preaching-stations. 
Many Germans scattered across the frontier did not welcome such 
visitors because they sought freedom from religion, rather than 
involvement in a strictly defined form of German Lutheranism. Even 
for those Germans who desired a ministerial presence, it was often 
not immediately forthcoming because of the shortage of pastors, 
caused in part by the long education process involved in preparing a 
man for ordination. Nonetheless, a Methodist-type circuit system was 
established, wherein a man was responsible for a number of 
preaching-stations that led at times to Sunday schools and ladies' aid 
organizations. These culminated frequently in a congregation which 
became part of a larger parish. Eventually the parish was divided into 
a number of self-sustaining congregations, and full programs were 

Further exemplifying this pattern is the story of Swedish 
Lutheranism in Western Illinois. In 1849 Pastor Lars Esbjorn came to 
Andover, prompted in part by his desire to preserve Swedish 
immigrants from the influence of the charismatic Eric Jansen, who 
had led in the establishment of nearby Bishop Hill in 1846, and from 
the work of Jonas Hedstrom and his Swedish Methodist activity 



Swedish Lutheran Church, Moline. 

centered around Victoria, where in the same year of 1846 the first 
Swedish Methodist church in the world had been organized. Esbjorn 
himself had been influenced in Sweden by the English Methodist 
preacher, George Scott, and when he came to Western Illinois, he 
received support from the largely Congregational-Presbyterian 
American Home Missionary Society. Thus when he established the 
first Swedish Lutheran congregation in America since colonial times 
at Andover in March, 1850, and a second congregation in Moline 
nine months later, he sought to preserve the Lutheran faith. 
However, he combined this effort with a strong statement against 
intoxicants and in support of the American Home Missionary 
Society's demand that baptism alone was not a sufficient basis for 
church membership. 

Some years after Esbjorn's return to Sweden, these two 
congregations erected large brick churches, Andover in 1867 and 
Moline in 1876. Indicative of the paternalism expressed in these 
buildings is the observation that a pastor of a Stockholm Lutheran 
parish made when touring the buildings with the author.'*'^ When 
asked if they were truly Swedish Lutheran church structures, the 
pastor looked about the building at Andover and stated that it was 
indeed a replication of nineteenth-century rural churches in some 
Swedish provinces. He noted that the most accurate duplication was 


to be seen in the shadings in the stained glass windows. Thus, a 
Swedish immigrant or his children would be transported back to 
Sweden when they entered the Andover church. Being asked the 
same question in the Moline First Lutheran Church, the pastor 
reflected for a moment and said that this church was not like a 
Lutheran church at all, but was a rather faithful reproduction of 
Baptist churches being built in Swedish cities. In either case, the 
attempt had been successful in reproducing Swedish buildings, even 
though many of the Swedish immigrants were in conflict with the 
state church and were sympathetic to the more personal faith 
represented by several denominations at work in Western Illinois, 
where Swedish Methodist and Baptist churches and denominational 
organizations were produced. 

However, the congregations at Andover and Moline were two of 
thirty-six Swedish and thirteen Norwegian congregations that met in 
June, 1860, at Jefferson Prairie, Wisconsin, to form a Scandanavian 
Synod. The name adopted was Augustana, the Latin term for the 
basic Lutheran document of 1530, the Augsburg Confession. This 
was indicative of the theological stance of the Synod, which was 
committed to the premises enunciated in the Unaltered Augsburg 
Confession. It meant to make its position unmistakably clear: this 
was to be a Lutheran Church in the classical sense, without addition 
or subtraction. 

Soon the Swedes established the preservation of the Swedish 
language as a high-priority congregational activity. For them, 
education did not mean the founding of a parochial school to 
compete with developing public schools, but rather the establishment 
of the "Swede's" school. This institution was originally intended as 
an aid to the immigrant in adjusting to the unfamiliar conditions and 
language. It soon became clear that the children needed no help in 
learning English— quite the contrary. Without help, they would soon 
be unable to understand Swedish. The social pattern of the second 
generation repudiating their immigrant-parents' culture began to be 
evidenced. To the parents, the Swedish language carried many 
pleasant memories and tender associations. To their 
American-educated children, Swedish was the language spoken at 
home and in church and often ridiculed at school. Alarmed by their 
children's growing indifference, they exerted pressure, causing the 
parish school to become the instrument for the preservation of the 
Swedish language among the rising generation. 

Even the earliest clergy, who unlike the Saxon Germans, had 
expected to quickly transfer to English, were deterred in their efforts 
by the waves of immigrants arriving after the Civil War. In Western 
Illinois it became necessary to retain Swedish as the language of the 
church. The "Swede" school, taught in the summer by a college or 
seminary student, included the study of Swedish, Bible history. 


Luther's Small Catechism, and hymns. A typical Swedish Lutheran 
congregation in Western Illinois is Immanuel, Altona. Formally 
organized in 1859, the first "Swede" school was held for three 
months in the summer of 1873. Two years later the term had been 
extended to six months. In 1876 a second school was opened north 
of town for a two-month term. From 1888 to 1894 the congregation 
maintained three separate schools. By 1905 only one school 
remained, and it was not until 1916 that the pastor announced that 
approximately half of the instruction was not conducted in English. 
By 1921 the Swedish language had all but disappeared from the 
school, and the institution was changed to the summer Bible school 
that has continued in many Lutheran churches. As the adults became 
increasingly Americanized, they saw less value in conserving Swedish 
for the language's sake. In fact, in later years the students may have 
spoken Swedish, but they thought in English."^ ^ 

At the Altona congregation, all worship services were initially in 
Swedish, as was the instruction in the "Swede" school. While Sunday 
school classes were largely in English, confirmation instruction was in 
Swedish. The young people's organization, the Luther League, 
conducted its meetings in English. This divergence in programming 
encouraged younger generations to look to other denominations for 
worship. For a long time the Augustana Synod seemed to accept 
these losses quietly, apparently taking it for granted that those who 
insisted on getting their religion in English dress could be 
expected— and, in fact, were welcome— to go -elsewhere.^ ^ 

At Altona the congregational meeting for 1907 approved an 
English service for the first Sunday of the month. A year later this 
was rescinded, and it was not until 1913 that two Sunday evening 
services per month were in English. World War I then hastened the 
move to English services, for in 1916 the congregation voted to hold 
all Sunday evening services in English. The congregation swelled in 
size, yet it was not until 1938 that the last regularly scheduled 
Swedish service was held."*^ 

Danish Lutherans also immigrated to Western Illinois, 
establishing St. Peter's church at Sheffield in 1869. The Danish 
language was preserved in the Sabbath school held on Saturdays, 
where lessons were conducted in church doctrine and the native 
language. Confirmation instruction was a part of the life of the early 
teenager in this congregation— and in all Lutheran congregations. As 
was typical of the time, this consisted of much memorization of the 
Lutheran teachings, and in Sheffield, it was all in Danish. 

A particular contribution of the Danes to Sheffield society was 
the observance of Christmas. Before the Danes came to Sheffield, 
Christmas was like any other day of the year. The Danish immigrants 
were used to their old country's traditions, and so they celebrated 


Christmas in Sheffield just as they had done in their homeland, from 
December 25 to January 7. They were the first to decorate Christmas 
trees with lighted candles and give presents to the children. For two 
weeks the people celebrated with parties, dances, and religious 
ceremonies. A Danish businessman was the first to close his store on 
Christmas Eve and Day, and also on New Year's Day.'*^ 

The Danes slowly moved from Sheffield, and in 1955 St. Peter's 
was disbanded. While this did not happen to most Lutheran 
immigrant churches, they did share a determination to not only 
preserve Lutheranism, but to do so in the language and culture of the 
European homeland. There were exceptions to this rule in the 
gradual establishment of more and more English Lutheran churches, 
primarily by Germans of colonial or early nineteenth-century 
immigrant families, and by later generations of nineteenth-century 

More consistantly paternalistic than the various ethnic Lutherans 
were the Roman Catholics, also of diverse European backgrounds. 
The Roman Catholic Church came in style— European style, Roman 
style— replete with its canon law, rubrics, liturgy, its doctrinal and 
moral system. Furthermore, the Roman Catholic Church obliged its 
adherents to be traditional. 

The imposition of this centuries-old European religious form on 
the frontier is seen in two basic patterns, as exemplified in 
Davenport, Iowa and on the Illinois side of the Mississippi. The 
Davenport scene is dominated by the patronage of Antoine LeClaire, 
and the Illinois story is centered around the circuit rider priest. 
Father John Alleman, and his grassroots approach. 

Antoine LeClaire was Davenport's first citizen and foremost 
Catholic layman. The son of a French Canadian fur trader and a 
Pottawattamie princess, LeClaire first arrived at Fort Armstrong in 
1818, two years after its establishment. Like his father, he was an 
employee of the American Fur Company, but he was also in the 
service of the federal government as an interpreter, speaking English 
and Spanish with a French accent, in addition to handling fourteen 
or fifteen Indian tongues. He took up permanent residence in what 
was to be Davenport in 1827, and after the completion of the Black 
Hawk War, he laid plots for the city, finally being responsible for 
nine additions. He gave the land for the site of the first Catholic 
church, which was appropriately called St. Anthony's. Located in the 
midst of the infant settlement, the cornerstone was laid by the 
travelling Dominican missionary. Father Samuel Mazzuchelli, in 
1837. Constructed of brick, it was the first such building in 
Davenport, built at a time when there were not more than two dozen 
Roman Catholics in the town. The structure was completed and paid 
for (with LeClaire being a basic benefactor) when the first priest, 




St. Anthony's Catholic Church, Davenport. 

Father John Pelamourges, arrived in 1839. The latter almost 
immediately began teaching the children, though a separate school 
building was not erected for seventeen years."* ^ 

The decades of the thirties and forties marked the arrival of 
significant numbers of Germans and Irish to this area, and St. 
Anthony's soon became too small to handle the enlarged 
congregation. In spite of the building of a larger stone church during 
the years 1850-1853, and the coming of a German priest, the 
Germans asked to have a church of their own. In 1856, St. 
Kunegunda (later St. Joseph) was built in "Germantown" in the 
western part of the community on land donated by another Catholic 
layman, G. C. R. Mitchell. A year later a school was started in the 
gallery, but in 1860 a separate building was erected. This continued 
the Catholic policy of opening a parochial school almost immediately 
after the establishment of a parish. 

This action of the Germans evidently piqued LeClaire, for as he 
was opening his eighth addition to the city, his previous offer of 
1854 was accepted, and he was responsible for donating another 
church square on the hill in the eastern section of the city for the site 
of Davenport's third Catholic church. This time the patron not only 
deeded the land; the entire expense of construction was met by him: 


labor costs, all building materials, the bell, the organ, the altar and 
vestments, plus the rectory and, some years later, even another 
rectory. The school was opened in 1859, having its own building in 
1871. This parish was named St. Marguerite, which was the name of 
LeClaire's wife. He also gave the land for St. Margaret's Cemetery, 
which was later named Mount Calvary. ^° 

By the time of LeClaire's death in 1861, the Roman Catholic 
Church was firmly established in Davenport, much of the credit 
being due to its generous patron. His influence did not even cease 
with his death. He had given the church an entire downtown block, 
in which was located the Chancery Office of the Diocese of 
Davenport, which was established in 1881 when southern Iowa was 
separated from the Diocese of Dubuque. 

Much more typical of Roman Catholic penetration into Western 
Illinois and Eastern Iowa was the career of Father John Alleman. 
Born in the Alsace Valley of France, he emigrated with his parents to 
Ohio in 1832. Two years later he was ordained a priest in the 
Dominican order. A bit eccentric, he had difficulty working with 
other priests, but in 1840 he was secured by Bishop Matthias Loras 
of Dubuque for the small German parish in Fort Madison. The 
bishop claimed that Protestantism would take hold forever in this 
area if there was not unceasing effort put forth by Catholic 
missionary priests who could speak the language of the pioneers.^ ^ 

Alleman was responsible for the building of a brick church in 
Fort Madison in 1846, but he did not by any means limit his activity 
to this town. He travelled in both Iowa and Illinois, and at the 
request of Bishop William J. Quarter of Chicago, switched his home 
parish to Nauvoo in 1850 so that he might more adequately minister 
to the Germans who had replaced the Mormons there. Nonetheless, 
like a Methodist circuit rider, he continued to itinerate to the Illinois 
River and almost to the Wisconsin border. He travelled mainly by 
foot (sometimes hitching a ride on a wagon or steamboat), carrying 
his church vestments and altar pieces in leather saddle bags and using 
a stump or plank thrown across some saw horses as his altar. 
Whenever abroad on his rounds, he always wore a black cassock and 
broad-rimmed hat. By so doing, he could say, "I am a poor 
Dominican Friar. I made a vow of poverty and another to establish 
missions, and with God's grace I will keep them both."^^ 

His motto was: "I will plant, let others water; I leave it to God to 
increase. "^2 His plan for the future uplift of the Church was simple. 
When he arrived in a settlement where there were Catholics, he did 
not fail to assure them of the great future in store for all the West 
country and to insist that they should aid him in securing land for a 
church and school. He also was adamant that an appropriate church 
be built in which the traditional liturgy of the Church could be 
celebrated. His letters indicate that he was often in debt, and this 


resulted from the accumulation of bills for brick, lumber, and cut 

Alleman's first appearance in Rock Island in 1851 provides an 
example of the way he worked. He began at once to build a cut 
limestone church, with the stone being quarried right on the site. The 
result was a small Gothic church, with the window sills and some 
other trimmings being made of stone taken from the ruins of the 
Mormon Temple in Nauvoo, which had been loaded on flatboats and 
transported up the Mississippi. Part of the cost of building was met 
by loans from the Davenport patron, which LeClaire later forgave. In 
1853, after the completion of the project, Alleman moved to Rock 
Island and assumed the pastorate of St. Mary's, and during the next 
six years he was active in establishing other churches. Due to failing 
health, he moved to Collinsville in 1859, and two years later he 
returned to the Dominican mother house in Kentucky. His health 
continued to fail, and he died in St. Louis in 1865. He has left as his 
memorial a dozen Roman Catholic parishes in Western Illinois 

It was largely by such missionary priests, often under the 
discipline of religious orders, that the Catholic pioneers were sought 
out— not only sought out, but persuaded without consideration of 
cost to build proper brick and stone churches in which the faith 
could be celebrated without transplantation loss. Even this was not 
all, for immediately schools were established so that coming 
generations could be nurtured in the centuries-old faith. In this 
fashion, in Western Illinois as elsewhere, the Church of Rome 
extended its embrace. 

As was noted earlier, there was a deep antagonism between 
Methodists and Baptists, on the one hand, and the frontier-born 
Campbellites. A similar antagonism developed between the 
paternalistic Congregationalists and Presbyterians and all forms of 
primitivism. The Episcopalians considered themselves possessed of a 
tradition superior to all the aforementioned. While the Lutherans 
were seen as an alien cultural group, their religion and way of life was 
not viewed as a threat to other Protestants (with the exception of the 
Germans and their Sunday tippling). It was a widely held Protestant 
attitude, however, that Roman Catholicism was a serious threat to 
the entire nation. Horace Bushnell had suggested this in 1847 when 
he considered Catholicism to be the second greatest danger (after 
barbarism) to the frontier and, in fact, to all of America. In Western 
Illinois and Eastern Iowa this threat was centered on the parochial 
schools, which drew not only Catholic students, but often Protestant 
as well. This led zealous Protestants to insist the Romans were not 
only serving their own, but proselytizing Protestants. 

The greatest organized eruption of antagonism toward Roman 


Catholicism occurred in the Mississippi River town of Clinton, Iowa 
in 1887, with the formation of the American Protective Association. 
This virulent anti-Catholic organization was brought into being by 
Henry F. Bowers, who insisted that the mayor of Clinton had been 
defeated for re-election by the block of Irish votes. This group 
developed along the lines of a secret, oathbound society, similiar to 
the then-popular fraternal lodges. Included in one of its oaths is this 

I hereby declare that I am a firm believer in a Deity. I am not a member 
of the Roman Catholic Church, nor have I any sympathy with Roman 
Catholicism: that in my opinion no Roman Catholic should be allowed 
any part or parcel in the control, or occupy any position in our public 
schools. On the contrary, I realize that the institutions of our country 
are in danger from the machinations of the Church of Rome. I believe 
that only by the removal of Roman Catholics from offices of trust can 
subserved; and that by the concerted and continued efforts of the 
lovers of American liberty only can such results be consummated and 
continued. 56 

What success the APA did have was in the whipping up of 
anti-Catholic sentiment, primarily in the rural and Protestant 
Midwest. Here it did have some influence in several city and some 
state governments, but its demise occurred rapidly after its secret 
character was made public in 1893. While it was ostensibly a 
movement to stop the influence of Roman Catholicism, what its 
supporters often really had in mind was to stop the flow of Roman 
Catholic immigrants. Those who sought this were threatened by the 
waves of immigrants in a time of embittered class conflict and social 
and economic frustration.^^ Religion thus became the tool by which 
economic fears could be addressed. 

The early decades of settlement in Western Illinois were indeed 
marked not only by denominational competition, but also by 
antagonism between various religious groups and tension within 
them. While there was an agreed urgency to establish congregations 
in this area of the Mississippi Valley, there were also pronounced 
disagreements as to the nature of the Christianity to be nurtured. 
The primitivist wanted this unspoiled land to produce a version of 
the faith that would be native to the area and inspired by Spirit-filled 
men and women reading the unadorned Scriptures. Thus, in this new 
Garden of Eden, God would once again raise up the primitive church. 
The methods for doing this were not necessarily the same as those 
employed farther east, for the realization developed that a more 
efficient means— not necessarily compromising the faith— was the 
organization of missionary societies and the employment of men to 
carry forth the endeavor. 

The paternalists had no hesitancy in utilizing mission societies 
that employed formally educated men to bring the carefully 


developed Christian tradition into the wilderness. Their objective was 
to impose upon this region the faith and culture that had been 
developed by prior generations in other areas, so as to perpetuate a 
continuity with the past. Even as Western Illinois was to beconne a 
reflection of prior Christian culture, there were those who wished 
that the reflection might more accurately resemble what they 
considered to be the true tradition, rather than what they had known 
in their former home. In spite of conflicting theologies, methods, and 
attitudes, or at times because of such factors, denominational 
Christianity planted firm roots in the soil of Western Illinois. 


Winthrop S. Hudson, "How American is Religion in America?," in Reinterpretation 
in American Church History, ed. Jerald C. Brauer (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1968), 
p. 1 56. 

Sidney E. Mead, "The American People: Their Space, Time, and Religion," in The 
Lively Experiment: The Shaping of Christianity in America (New York: Harper and Row, 
1963), pp. 6, 14, 15. 

Catherine L. Albanese, "Research Needs in American Religious History," in The 
Council on the Study of Religion Bulletin, 10 (October, 1979), 101-05. 

Lyman Beecher, A Plea for the West (Cincinnati: Truman and Wise, 1836), pp. 10, 

^ Philander Chase, Bishop Chase's Reminiscences: An Autobiography, 2nd ed. (Boston: 
James B. Dow, 1848), II, 403-04. 

° Nathaniel S. Haynes, History of the Disciples of Christ in Illinois, 1819-1914. 
(Cincinnati: Standard Publishing, 191 5), p. 17. 

"^ Ibid., p. 373. 

^ Ibid., p. 423. 

^ Ibid., p. 109. 

Gilbert S. Bailey, History of the Illinois River Baptist Association and of Its Churches 
(New York: Sheldon, Blakeman and Co., 1856), p. 14. 

^'' Ibid., p. 83. 

1 2 

William Warren Sweet, Religion on the American Frontier: The Baptists (New York: 

Cooper Square Publishers, 1964), pp. 66-67. 
1 o 
'■^Rufus Babcock, Memoirs of John Mason Peck (Philadelphia: American Baptist 

Publication Society, 1863), p. 183. 

'''* Ibid., p. 185. 

^^ Halley Farr Waggner, "Baptist Beginnings in Illinois," unpublished M.A. thesis. 
University of Chicago, 1928, p. 63. 

^^ Bailey, pp. 7-8. 

"•^ lbid.,p. vi. 

1 fi 

° Peter Cartwright, Autobiography of Peter Cartwright, ed. W. P. Strickland (New 

York: Carlton and Porter, 1856), p. 358. 
1 q 
^ William Perrin, Counties of Christian and Trigg, Kentucky (Chicago: F. A. Battey Co., 

1884), pp. 195-96. 


20 Cartwright, pp. 307-08. 
^I Ibid., p. 270. 

22 Ibid., p. 467. 

23 John A. Widstoe, A Rational Theology as Taught in the Church of Jesus Christ of 
Latter-day Saints, 4th ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Books, 1937), p. 26. 

2^* James E. Talmage, A Study of the Articles of Faith, 1 8th ed. (Salt Lake City: Church 
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1939), p. 430. 

2^ Frederick I. Kuhns, "Expansion and Developnnent to the Organization of the General 
Congregational Association of Illinois," \n A History of Illinois Congregational and Christian 
Churches, ed. Matthew Spinka (Chicago; The Congregational and Christian Conference of 
Illinois, 1949), p. 70. 

26 William Irvine Blair, The Presbyterian Synod of Illinois (Mattoon Presbytery, 1952), 
p. 29. 

2^ Quoted in Josephine L. Kiser, "History of Hampshire Colony Congregational Church 
of Princeton, Illinois," unpublished paper, Augustana College, 1970, p. 1. 

28 "Hampshire Colony Church Record," Book No. 1 (1831-1 849), p. 1 


Ibid., p. 12. 

■^0 The first Congregational Church organized within the state was at Mendon, Adams 
County, February 20, 1833, according to Frederick I. Kuhns, "From the Formation of the 
American Home Missionary Society to the organization of the First Congregational 
Churches," in A History of Illinois Congregational and Christian Churches, p. 23. 

3^ Kiser, p. 18. 

■^2 Frederick I. Kuhns, "Expansion and Development to the Organization of the General 
Congregational Association of Illinois," p. 79. 

33 History of Mercer County (Chicago: H. H. Hill, 1882), p. 35. 

3^ Mrs. Glen Appleton, "Pope's River Presbyterian Paradise," unpublished paper, 
Augustana College, 1970, pp. 5-6. 

3^ Jackson W. Carroll, Religion in America: 1950 to the Present (San Francisco: Harper 
and Row, 1979), p. 60. 

36 Appleton, p. 21. 

3^ Quoted in James Colletti, "The Beginnings of the Episcopal Church in Iowa," 
unpublished M.A. thesis. University of Chicago, 1929, p. 54. 

38 Quoted in James Colletti, pp. 40-41. 

39 Ibid., p. 41. 

^0 Philander Chase, II, 397-98. 

^^ Ibid., 11,411-12. 

'^2 Colletti, p. 56. 

'*3 Walter O. Forster, Zion on the Mississippi (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 
1953), p. 9. 

^^ The Rev. Dr. Ake Haglund, pastor Brannkyrka Church, Stockholm, April 8, 1975. 

^^ Helen Bjorling, "The Transition from Swedish to English as seen in Immanuel 
Lutheran Church, Altona, Illinois," unpublished paper, Augustana College, 1970, pp. 1 7-19. 

^6 Everett G. Arden, Augustana Heritage: a History of the Augustana Lutheran Church 
(Rock Island: Augustana Book Concern, 1963), p. 239. 

^^ Bjorling, pp. 21-23. 

^8 Elaine Kercher, "St. Peter's Danish Lutheran Church," unpublished paper, Augustana 
College, 1970, p. 10. 


" Don Lenger, "St. Anthony's Church, Davenport, Iowa," unpublished paper, 
Augustana College, 1970, pp. 8-10. 

^Joseph P. Scott, "The Catholic Church in Davenport, Iowa," unpublished paper, 
Augustana College, 1970, pp. 8-10. 


David Ramacitti, "I Will Plant, Let Others Water: The Rev. John Alleman of the 

Upper Mississippi Valley," unpublished paper, Augustana College, 1975, p. 7. 

Sister Mary Jean Ellen Shields, "A Biography of Rev. John George Alleman, Pioneer 
Missionary of Ohio, Iowa and Illinois," unpublished M.A. thesis, St. Louis University, 1954, 
p. 28. 

^^ Ibid., p. 28. 

^^ Ibid., p. 34. 

^^ Ibid., p. 177. 

^^ T. J. Jenkins, "A P. A. Conspirators," Catholic World, 57 (1893), 690. 

^' John Higham, Strangers in the Land (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers Univ. Press, 
1955), p. 81. 



OF IOWA, 1832 - 1851 

Ronald Rayman 

The end of the Black Hawk War in late summer of 1832 brought 
a deep sigh of relief to white settlers in the Upper Mississippi River 
Valley. The Sac and Fox Indians had been decimated by the conflict 
and, more significantly, were reduced in strength to a point where 
they presented no obstacle to white expansion west of the Mississippi 
River into present-day Iowa. 

Concluded in September, 1832, and ratified by the Senate the 
following spring, the Black Hawk Treaty exploited the tribes' 
impotence by forcing them to cede a large portion of their territory 
on the west bank of the Mississippi River. Sometimes called Scott's 
Purchase after General Winfield Scott who had conducted the treaty 
negotiations, the ceded area lay in a fifty-mile-wide band 
encompassing six million acres. Part, or all, of twenty-two future 
Iowa counties were contained within the purchase, including 
portions of Allamakee, Buchanan, Davis, Fayette, Jefferson, Linn, 
Johnson, and Washington, nearly all of Cedar, Clayton, and Van 
Buren, and the entire counties of Clinton, Delaware, Des Moines, 
Dubuque, Henry, Jackson, Jones, Lee, Louisa, Muscatine, and Scott. 
The chief element of compensation paid to the Sac and Fox was a 
$20,000 annuity allotted for a thirty-year duration. Computed on a 
simple cost-per-acre basis, the cash price of ten cents per acre was a 
bargain of incredible dimensions. "i 

This conflict-treaty-land cession progression was a common 
pattern of settlement and expansion in American history. Drawing 
upon colonial precedents, the United States, having once obtained 
land by conquest from innumerable Indian tribes, chose to obtain 
clearer title to those lands through treaty purchase. ^ Regardless of 
this pattern's fairness or morality, it was well-established by 1832, 
notably in that chain of states east of Iowa comprised of Illinois, 
Indiana, and Ohio. The Black Hawk War seemingly represented 
nothing more than a continuation of that pattern. 

Nevertheless, there were unique facets of Iowa's settlement and 
eventual statehood in 1846 which were directly attributable to the 




20 40 




Base Map, Black Hawk Purchase. 


Black Hawk Purchase. These facets set the experience of the 
Purchase and the state apart from that of other states in relation to 
factors such as rapidity of settlement and population growth, 
agricultural expansion and production, and Indian relations. ^ 

A discussion of actual settlement in the Black Hawk Purchase is 
crucial to an adequate understanding and analysis of the region's 
uniqueness, and its importance to Iowa's pre-statehood development 
and growth. The Purchase area in 1832 was nearly void of 
settlement. Only a few scattered enclaves clung to the Mississippi's 
west bank. Within a decade, however, the complexion of the region 
changed dramatically. Large numbers of settlers rushed to claim a 
portion of the fertile, newly-opened region; merchants, traders, 
bankers, and the rest of society followed soon after. In this fashion, 
the Black Hawk Purchase acted as a catalyst, stimulating and 
nurturing the future state's development. 

The region's accessibility fed voracious white appetites for virgin 
lands. Emigrants generally followed one of the major water 
transportation routes, via the Wisconsin, Ohio, or Mississippi rivers, 
to the Purchase area. Settlement expanded beyond immediate 
proximity to the Mississippi by utilizing the interior river system 
comprised of the Des Moines, Skunk, Iowa, Cedar, Wapsipinicon, 
Maquoketa, and Turkey rivers.^ Flowing generally in a 
northwest-southeast direction, those rivers provided ready access to 
the future state's rich interior lands. Overland travellers were far 
fewer in number. They typically reached the purchase via the 
Chicago or Rockford areas in Illinois, or the Cumberland Road across 
Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.^ 

An important factor promoting settlement was the influence 
exerted by early settlers upon friends, relatives, and the population 
at large. Commercial ventures, particularly land companies, were 
equally interested in stimulating rapid settlement of the Purchase 
area. The resulting welter of maps, letters, newspaper advertisements, 
promotional circulars, and immigrant guides exercised a hypnotic 
effect upon potential settlers, who could hardly have resisted glowing 
accounts such as these: "We are now able to comprehend the justness 
of the remark very generally made by those who have seen the whole 
of it, that the Black Hawk Purchase, take it all in all, is the best body 
of land in the world," or "we have a pure atmosphere, a salubrious 
clime, good soil, large potatoes, fat beef, unctious venison, milk and 
honey . . . our country abounds with inexhaustible sources of [lead] , 
and most excellent springs are seen rippling from the crevices of the 

Rapid population growth was responsible for the area's change as 
a political entity as well. The region passed successively under the 
jurisdictions of the Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, and Michigan 
territories. Incorporated as part of the Wisconsin Territory in 1836, 






Population Density (Per Square Mile) 1840/1850. 


it was soon designated the Iowa Territory on June 12, 1838, as a 
direct result of the region's burgeoning population.^ 

By 1836, substantial numbers of settlers had arrived at the 
Purchase. The influx was so great that anxious settlers sometimes 
waited four or five days for ferry service across the Mississippi 
River.s Steamboat traffic, a favorite means of travel, was equally 
heavy. One Dubuque newspaper reported in May, 1836, that "the 
tide of emigration is pouring upon us an immense number of families 
this spring," for twenty-five groups of passengers had arrived by 
sixteen different steamboats at that town.^ 

New arrivals were welcomed in the same optimistic, expansive 
spirit which had initially drawn settlers to the Purchase: "Emigrants 
are coming in rapidly ... let them come and we have plenty of room 
for all them, and a better country, by far than they left, come from 
where they may."^° This sentiment found its way into settlers' 
perceptions of the pioneer experiment of which they were an integral 
part. Imprinted upon their thinking was a traditional Jeffersonian 
concept of untainted yeoman farm ownership. Illinois, for example, 
was denounced as a place where land speculators, "who had never 
intended to live upon or improve" the lands they had purchased, had 
driven "emigrants of small means" across the Mississippi River.'' ^ 
There, the Black Hawk Purchase offered an opportunity to acquire 
farms "by mere occupancy and cultivation," free from the 
speculative abuses which characterized other, less fortunate areas.^ ^ 
This romanticized viewpoint was totally inaccurate. As Robert 
Swierenga has pointed out, "Of all the public land states, speculators 
were most active in lowa."^ ^ 

The establishment of post offices and mail routes for the 
Purchase area also signalled rapid growth. Black Hawk Purchase 
residents constantly bombarded the federal government with 
petitFons for expanded and improved postal service as early as 1833, 
citing the "densely populate state of the country on the west side of 
the Miss[issippi] River" as justification for the expend itu res. "i ^ 

Dubuque garnered the first post office. Established May 27, 
1833, it preceeded the Purchase's official opening to settlers by five 
days. A second post office opened for business at Peru, Dubuque 
County, in August, 1833, but the government approved only one 
new post office per year in both 1834 and 1835. Soon after the 
federal survey began, the flow of settlers reached flood stage, a flood 
reflected in the rising demand for additional postal services, and the 
subsequent establishment of new post offices. From the four offices 
put into operation during 1833-1835, the number increased an 
additional seven in 1836, eighteen in 1837, eleven in 1838, fourteen 
in 1839, and twenty-two in 1840. For the period 1833-1840, 
seventy-six post offices and 919 miles of postal routes were approved 
and put into operation.^ ^ By comparison, this postal expansion far 





Post Offices Established, by County, 1832-1840. 


exceeded similar development in Illinois (9 post offices, 388 miles of 
postal routes), and Indiana (16 post offices, 609 miles of postal 
routes) J ^ 

Postal service remained a constant source of concern and 
discussion among Purchase residents. Newspapers, themselves an 
important matter, frequently printed information on the mails. The 
establishment of new offices, the appointment of postmasters, and 
letters to the government pleading for improved and expanded 
services to meet the needs of a mushrooming population, were 
common topics of interest. Local post offices printed long lists of 
unclaimed letters in the newspapers as well. One Burlington list in 
1837 tallied letters for 233 individuals totalling over 250 pieces of 
mail.^ ^ The mail's great importance was poignantly underscored in a 
newspaper report headed "The Mails": 

Don't be alarmed, reader, at the mention of this word; we shall not 
read you a homily again upon that subject. You are tired of it, 
doubtless, and so are we; and if nothing can be done for our relief, 
there is no use saying more about it. We must submit to our hard fate; 
we must content ourselves with being ... as far as the mails are 
concerned, out of the Union— farther from "any place" than 
inhabitants of the moon. 18 

From earliest settlement to Iowa statehood, the Black Hawk 
Purchase was responsible for sparking a spectacular regional 
population growth. An estimated 14,000 inhabitants lived in the 
Purchase area by 1837, yet the federal government had not sold a 
single acre of land there. ""^ This land rush ultimately accelerated 
Iowa's population growth at a far more rapid rate than in any 
neighboring state except Wisconsin. ^o 

Population analyses are possible by utilizing federal population 
returns and estimates for state comparisons. The regional population 
stood at 43,000 in 1840, and it reached 102,000 at the time of Iowa 
statehood six years later in 1846.2^ At similar stages of state 
development, Illinois' population was 12,000 in 1810, and that 
figure had climbed to only 55,000 in 1820, two years after Illinois 
gained statehood in 1818. Comparatively slow growth also marked 
Ohio's experience, where in 1800, three years preceeding statehood, 
the population totalled only 45,000.^2 Likewise, Indiana counted 
24,500 inhabitants in 1810, and only 64,000 at statehood in 

Within this context, it should be noted that at the time of 
statehood in 1846, the eleven counties completely within original 
Black Hawk Purchase boundaries accounted for fifty-three percent of 
the new state's population. This figure declined to forty-six percent 
in 1850. Indicative of a gradual westward population shift away from 
a concentration in the eastern portion of the state, the Purchase area 
continued to experience a healthy growth rate during the 1840s, and 


well into the 1850s.24 

Population expansion, and ultimately agricultural production, 
were promoted by a factor other than emigration. The 1840 federal 
census for Iowa Territory, which recorded a population of 43,000, 
stated that of the 13,000 employed males, eighty percent (10,400) 
were employed as farmers. Since one-half of the total male 
population of 24,000 was under the age of twenty, it is reasonable to 
assume that an equally large percentage pursued an agricultural 
vocation and became farm owners or tenants upon entering the labor 
force. 2 5 This pool of future farmers provided an important stimulus 
to settlement and agricultural expansion in the Purchase area and 
beyond. This was particularly true of the earliest years of settlement, 
since male children of farmers acquired their own farms more easily 
during the early decades of settlement than after 1880.2 6 

The region's abundant acres directly affected the growth of 
population. Cheap land was the magnet which drew great numbers of 
settlers to the Black Hawk Purchase over a relatively short period of 
time. Some attempted to found a community at the site of 
present-day Burlington in the fall of 1832, months before the area 
was officially opened to settlers on June 1, 1833. Army troops under 
the command of Lt. Jefferson Davis, later president of the 
Confederacy during the Civil War, drove the settlers off, and burned 
their cabins to the ground in February, 1833. Illegal land holding, or 
squatting, quickly became the commonly accepted means of securing 
land in the Purchase area. Squatting spawned the much-discussed 
claim clubs, formed to protect farmers' right of possession. ^'^ By the 
time official land surveying got underway, thousands of acres had 
been occupied, cleared, planted, and crops had been harvested. 
However, a contemporary contention (put forward in Burlington's 
petition for a federal land office) that scarcely any decent farmland 
remained unoccupied in the entire Black Hawk Purchase, was 
unfounded. Population density statistics for Purchase counties show 
sparse settlement in many areas, even as late as 1850.^8 

Surveying commenced in October, 1835. The first land offices 
opened for business three years later in November, 1838, at 
Burlington and Dubuque. ^^ By March, 1839, the Burlington land 
office had achieved sales of over $400,000, One year later, sales 
remained brisk. During a single four day period, $76,000 was 
collected, $60,000 of that amount in specie. ^^ E^en impecunious 
settlers eagerly and easily purchased land with borrowed money. A 
"number of small capitalists" loaned out money for land purchases 
at "extortionary rates of interest for the use of their money for a 
short period." At initial sales held at Burlington, for instance, several 
moneylenders loaned out $100,000 apiece to land buyers at interest 
rates of forty percent for a one-year period.^ ^ 


Farmers invested far more than just money in their farms. 
Clearing, plowing, and readying the land for cultivation required 
enormous expenditures of physical labor: often several years elapsed 
before any significant crops were harvested. One farmer reportedly 
cleared and planted seventy-five acres over a three-year period, in the 
process struggling to overcome obstacles such as the sixty-mile trek 
he made to the nearest gristmill, and the twenty miles necessary to 
have his plow sharpened.^ 2 

Despite financial and physical hardships encountered during the 
start-up phase, agriculture in the Purchase was firmly rooted by 
1840. Total corn crop production for that year indicated the 
agricultural promise of the region with 1,400,000 bushels harvested. 
Henry County captured first place in Purchase area corn production 
with 283,000 bushels, Lee County second (213,000 bushels), and 
Des Moines County third (190,000 bushels). 33 

Comparisons of corn crops in the Black Hawk Purchase with 
established agricultural regions to the east are difficult. Differing 
stages of settlement and agricultural development complicate the 
task. Nevertheless, extrapolating data obtained for the eleven 
counties completely within the original Purchase provides a basis for 
offering comparative conclusions regarding agricultural production. 
Those eleven counties represented ten percent of the future state's 
total area. Therefore, by applying a multiplier of ten to 1840 and 
1850 corn crop figures, a hypothetical approximation of overall state 
production for those early years can be projected. 3 ^ 

Corn production for the eleven county base area totalled almost 
1,000,000 bushels for 1840, and 3,500,000 bushels for 1850. 
Applying the hypothetical multiplier of ten, crops of 10,000,000 
bushels and 35,000,000 bushels are computed for those years.3 5 
Illinois reported corn crops of 22,500,000 bushels and 57,500,000 
bushels, respectively, for 1840 and 1850.3 6 Indiana's 1850 corn crop 
amounted to 53,000,000 bushels,3 7 and that of Ohio 59,079,000 
bushels.3 8 Worth noting is the fact that Illinois and Indiana had been 
states for over three decades by 1850, and Ohio four decades, while 
Iowa had enjoyed statehood only four short years. Iowa remained 
undeveloped in comparison to her eastern neighbors. Considered in 
this light, Iowa's early corn production compared favorably with 
both states. Iowa's corn crop continued to gain on Illinois and 
Indiana as settlement, land holding, and general agricultural 
development progressed. In 1870, Iowa still lagged behind with a 
yearly corn crop of 93,415,000 bushels, compared to Illinois' 
210,378,000 bushels and Indiana's 1 13,150,000 bushels.39 However, 
the 1870s witnessed a spectacular reversal of those rankings. Iowa 
corn production soared to 260,192,000 bushels, while during that 
same ten year period, Illinois and Indiana corn production increased 


only to 240,452,000 bushels for the former, and actually decreased 
to 99,229,000 bushels for the latter.'^o 

The dynamic processes of regional population growth, 
agricultural expansion, and eventual Iowa statehood largely owed 
their existence to the initial impetus provided by the Black Hawk 
Purchase in 1832. The Black Hawk Purchase also dictated the course 
of regional Indian affairs. The Purchase only temporarily appeased 
the insatiable white hunger for Indian lands, at the same time acting 
as a springboard to further white encroachments on Indian lands to 
the west. After 1832, additional treaties and land cessions forced 
upon the hapless Sac and Fox quickly followed in 1836, 1837, and 
1842, joining an earlier treaty negotiated in 1830. The Potawatomi 
ceded their remaining territory in western Iowa in 1846, and a treaty 
with the Sioux in 1851 ended the last Indian claim to lands in Iowa. 
Extinguishing those claims had taken twenty-one years, involved 
three separate tribes, and required seven treaties.^ ^ 

Iowa's experience with the Indian treaty-land cession progression 
differed substantially from that of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. A 
significant degree of tribal homogeneity existed in Iowa, a 
homogeneity which was lacking in the other states. Five of the seven 
treaties covering Iowa lands involved one tribe, the Sac and Fox. 
Both Ohio and Illinois were forced to deal with a total of sixteen 
tribes, and Indiana seventeen, to bring about the same goal of 
extinguishing Indian land claims in the state. 

Dealing with a smaller number of tribes simplified and 
accelerated the cession process. As a result, fewer treaties had to be 
negotiated. In contrast to Iowa's seven treaties, Ohio required 
twenty, Indiana forty-one, and Illinois eighteen treaties. Unlike Iowa, 
where each treaty and cession followed the last in a fairly orderly 
pattern, the other three states demonstrated an erratic, helter-skelter 
succession of treaties. Cessions in those states frequently overlapped, 
an indication of conflicting, competing tribal claims to identical 
territory. In Ohio, for example, an 1817 treaty which ceded roughly 
the state's northwest quarter necessitated fifteen additional treaties 
spread over a twenty-five year period to secure clear title. Eight 
separate treaties were needed in Indiana to acquire the southern third 
of the state. Nowhere was this confusion more pronounced than in 
Illinois where the state's first three Indian land cessions accounted 
for one-half of the state's area, but were not even contiguous: eight 
of Illinois' eighteen total treaties-land cessions overlapped at least 
once. Finally, the length of time required to accomplish the 
extinguishment process was a revealing comparison of the 
fundamental differences of relative speed by which a state was 
settled. The process took twenty-one years in Iowa, fifty-seven years 
in Ohio, fifty-five years in Indiana, and thirty years in Illinois.'*^ 


The Black Hawk Purchase represented far more than simply an 
Indian land cession. It fostered a frontier experience not shared by 
states such as Illinois, Indiana, or Ohio. Through a unique amalgam 
of factors such as location, accessibility, and fertility, the Purchase 
paved the way for unprecedented regional population growth, rapid 
agricultural expansion and development, swift elimination of Indian 
claims to adjacent territory, and eventual statehood for Iowa. 


The author wishes to acknowledge the financial assistance of the Western Illinois University 
Research Council, which provided a grant for this study. 

Indian Treaties, 1 778-1 883, ed. Charles Kappler (New York: Interland Publishing, 
1972), p. 349; U.S. Statutes, VII, 734; and William J. Petersen, The Story of Iowa (New 
York: Lewis Historical Publishing, 1952), I, 144. 

Joe D. Webber, "Indian Land Cessions Within the Northwest Territory," Illinois 
Libraries, 61 (1979), 507. 

~^ Cardinal Goodwin noted: "The acquisition of this territory marks the real beginning 
of white settlement in Iowa," in "The American Occupation of Iowa, 1833-1860," Iowa 
Journal of History and Politics, 17 ( 1 91 9), 85. 

William L. Harter and R. E. Stewart, The Population of Iowa, Its Composition and 
Changes: A Brief Sociological Study of Iowa's Human Assets (Ames: Iowa State Univ. Press, 
1930), pp. 7, 10; Petersen, The Story of Iowa, I, 356-58; and Robert P. Swierenga, Pioneers 
and Profits: Land Speculation on the Iowa Frontier (Ames: Iowa State Univ. Press, 1968), 
pp. 7-8. 

Petersen, The Story of Iowa, I, 358; and Swierenga, p. 7-8. 

°John Plumbe, Sketches of Iowa and Wisconsin (1839; rpt. Des Moines: State 
Historical Society of Iowa, 1948), p. 67; and Dubuque Visitor, 14 Sept. 1836, p. 3. 

^ Official Iowa Register 1969-1970, pp. 475-76. 

^ Iowa News, 3 June 1837, p. 3. 

^ Dubuque Visitor, 1 1 May 1 836, p. 2. 

Wisconsin Territorial Gazette and Burlington Advertiser, 14 April 1838, p. 3. 

^ ^ Iowa News, 10 June 1 837, p. 3. 

1 9 

Albert Lea, Notes on the Wisconsin Territory (1836; rpt. Des Moines: State Historical 

Society of Iowa, 1953), p. 14. 

1 3 

Swierenga, Pioneers and Profits, p. 6. 

Petition for Mail Service to West Mount Pleasant, Iowa, 6 April 1838, in Territorial 
Papers of the United States: Wisconsin Territory, ed. John Porter Bloom (Washington, D.C.: 
United States Government Printing Office, 1969), XXVII, 968. 

^ ^ U.S. Serial Set, no. 382, 26 Cong., 2 Sess., House Documents, II, 479. Information on 
Iowa post offices was supplied by James Leonardo, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. 

^° Wesley Everett Rich, The History of the United States Post Office to the Year 1829 
(Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1924), p. 89. The Illinois and Indiana figures are for the 
year 1815. 

'Wisconsin Territorial Gazette and Burlington Advertiser, 20 July 1837, p. 4. Other 
lists printed on 31 August 1837, pp. 3 and 4; 14 Sept. 1837, p. 3; and 5 Oct. 1837, p. 1. 


^ ° Wisconsin Territorial Gazette and Burlington Advertiser, 1 2 Oct. 1 837, p. 3. See also 
Ronald Rayman, "Frontier Mail Service in the Upper Mississippi River Valley," Postal 
History Journal, 21 (October, 1977), 11-20. 

^ Iowa News, 3 June, 1837, p. 3; and Petersen, The Story of Iowa, I, 356. 


Swierenga, Pioneers and Prof its, p. 7. 

^^ Iowa Secretary of State, Census of Iowa for 1880 (Des Moines; F. M. Mills, 1883), 
168. This source is sometimes referred to as the Iowa Historical and Comparative Census, 
183&1880. For bibliographic accuracy and purposes of standardization, the cited title will 
be used throughout. 

United States Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics of the United States: 
Colonial Times to 1970 (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 
1975), I, 27,33,39. 

^^ John B. Connor, Indiana Agriculture (Indianapolis: W. B. Burford, 1893), p. 3. 

2^ Census of Iowa for 1880, 196-98. 

1840 Federal Census for Iowa Territory, National Archives and Records Service, 
microfilm series M704, Roll 1, frame 2. 

Seddie Cogswell, Jr., Tenure, Nativity, and Age as Factors in Iowa Agriculture, 
1850-1880 (Ames: Iowa State Univ. Press, 1975), pp. 38-41. 

Petersen, The Story of Iowa, I, 294-95. For information of claim clubs, see Allan G. 
Bogue, "The Iowa Claim Clubs; Symbols and Substance," Mississippi Valley Historical 
Review, 45 (1958), 231-53; and "Early Land Claims in Des Moines County," Iowa Journal 
of History and Politics, 10(1912), 255-60. 

Petition of 19 January 1836, in Territorial Papers of the United States: Wisconsin 
Territory, XXVII, 9-13. 

'^^ Alonzo Abernethy, "Iowa Under Territorial Government and the Removal of the 
Indians," Annals of Iowa, 3d ser., 7 (1906), 440-41; and Plumbe, Sketches of Iowa and 
Wisconsin, pp. 65-66. 

-^^ Niles' National Register, 2 May 1 840, p. 131. 

Swierenga, Pioneers and Profits, pp. 11-12. 

■^2 Niles' National Register, 1 Sept. 1839, p. 21. 

^^ Census of Iowa for 1880, pp. 278-80, 284-86. 

Corn quickly became the agricultural staple and preeminent cash crop. Wheat, which 
had been grown throughout the Purchase in limited acreages, declined in importance as a 
major crop. However, wheat yields were consistently higher in the Black Hawk Purchase 
than in other states to the east. Harvests of 25-30 bushels per acre were common, as 
compared to 8-9 bushels for Indiana, and 18 bushels in Ohio; Charles William Burkett, 
History of Ohio Agriculture (Concord, New Hampshire; Rumford Press, 1900), p. 73; 
Connor, Indiana Agriculture, p. 18; Lea, Notes on the Wisconsin Territory, p. 13; and 
Plumbe, Sketches of Iowa and Wisconsin, p. 47. 

^^ Census of Iowa for 1880, pp. 278-80. 

^^ J. D. Baker, "Address of J. D. Baker ... October 11, 1855," Illinois State 

Agricultural Society Transactions, 2 (1856-57), p. 55. 


"^ Connor, Indiana Agriculture, p. 18. 


Ohio State Board of Agriculture, The Farmer's Centennial History of Ohio, 

1803-1903 (Springfield, Ohio: Springfield Pub. Co., 1904), p. 15. 

^ United States Department of Agriculture, Annual Report of the Commissioner of 
Agriculture for 1870 (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1871), 
pp. 31-32. 


United States Department of Agriculture, Annual Report of the Commissioner of 
Agriculture for 1880 (Washington, D.C.; United States Government Printing Office, 1881), 
pp. 191-92. 

Kappler, Indian Treaties, pp. 305-10, 474-78, 495-96, 546-49, 557-60, and 591-93 
Joe D. Webber, "Indian Land Cessions 
Libraries, 61 (1979), 546-49, 557-58, and 561-63 


^■^ Joe D. Webber, "Indian Land Cessions within the Northwest Territory," Illinois 


1845 - 1859 

William Urban 

Almost every town has a story about someone famous, or near 
famous, or infamous, who was born or lived there, it was the fortune 
of Monmouth that one of the legends of the Wild West— Wyatt 
Earp— was born there in 1848. The town's connection with him was 
short, but the legend as told by his biographer, Stuart Lake, made it 
clear that Wyatt was but continuing a family tradition of taming the 

Western Illinois, in 1843, was raw frontier, overrun by border ruffians, 
renegades, and stockthieves who made life hazardous for the peaceably 
inclined. Insistence that Warren County could rid itself of 
undesireables, if the law and order faction would show as much spirit as 
the outlaws, was speedily exemplied by Walter and Nicholas Earp in 
protecting their own property, and in a fashion which led neighbors to 
dependence upon them in matters of this kind. Walter was elected 
Judge of the Illinois Circuit Court; Nicholas was commissioned a 
deputy sheriff to serve without pay. It has been recorded that Nicholas 
Earp as a volunteer peace officer established a precedent for fearless 
efficiency which might well have motivated his more famous son.^ 

The legend of Wyatt Earp, as portrayed in books and on film, 
was subsequently demolished by Frank Waters, who described Wyatt 
as "an itinerant saloonkeeper, cardsharp, gunman, bigamist, church 
deacon, policeman, bunco artist, and a supreme confidence man."^ 
The stunning expose, however, did not tell much about Western 
Illinois and the relationship of the Earp family to Monmouth. Were 
they pillars of the "law and order" establishment? Or on the other 

The true story is a complicated one that is made more difficult 
by the lack of source material. Judicial records in the Warren County 
courthouse have been misplaced, leaving only the index to cases. 
Moreover, the editor of the newspaper, C. K. Smith, printed only 
what he fancied, and he was not one to seek out local news. Thus, 
while the At/as (founded 1846) is one of the better sources for 
Mexican War stories, it is useful only sporadically in following the 
careers of the less prominent citizens of the community. 
Nevertheless, an outline can be created, thanks to the 1853 obituary 




A nineteenth-century sketch of Wyatt Earp. 


of Wyatt's grandfather, Walter Earp.^ 

The Earps came to Monmouth in 1845 or 1846. At the head of 
the family were Walter and his wife Martha, but already each of the 
five sons was self-sufficient. Walter was sixty-one (born in 
Montgomery County, Maryland in 1787) and had lived in various 
locations. He grew up in Virginia, married, and then moved to North 
Carolina, where three of his children were born. From there, he 
moved to Russellville and Morgantown, Kentucky, where he taught 
school and became a licensed preacher in the Methodist Episcopal 
Church. From 1825 to 1845 he farmed in Ohio County, Kentucky. 
Martha was a strong woman, whose nine children all survived to 
adulthood. A devoted Methodist, converted to the faith by Nicholas 
Porter (for whom she probably named Wyatt's father), she practiced 
the fierce Methodism of the frontier, which emphasized an emotional 
conversion, the mending of erring ways, and the abandonment of 
vices such as smoking, drinking, and gambling.'* 

The five sons took up various occupations in Monmouth. James 
(b. 1818), Josiah (b. 1819), and Lorenzo (b. 1809) became farmers, 
probably leasing land, since no record of any Earp buying land at this 
date is to be found in the county records. Francis (b. 1821) was a 
stonemason. Nicholas (b. September 6, 1813) was a cooper and 
reputedly worked in the store of Wyatt Berry Stapp, a prominent 
merchant, farmer, and politician.^ 

Lorenzo was apparently the first to come to Warren County, 
between 1843 and 1846, and he subsequently persuaded the rest of 
the family to move there. ^ A contradictory story, that Nicholas 
might have come to the county while serving in the Black Hawk War, 
can be discounted. His name does not appear among the lists of 
veterans of that conflict.^ This story is typical of the problems facing 
the researcher into the Earp past, for, contrary to Wyatt's later 
recollections, the family was neither well-off nor prominent in the 
community. That accounts for the scarcity of information about 
them in the public records, a scarcity which old timers filled in very 
imperfectly. Nevertheless, one must be cautious about dismissing too 
many of the tales about the family. For example, though they did 
not own land in Henderson County prior to moving to Monmouth, 
they might well have rented a farm for a short while. (Josiah did live 
in Bald Bluff from 1854 to 1869, apparently giving rise to this 
persistent story.) And though they did not have prominent roles in 
law enforcement, they could well have taken some part which is 
ignored by the records that survive. Let us, however, abandon the 
pursuit of rumor and look at the community in which they had 
chosen to live. 

Between 1845 and 1850 Monmouth was a typical prairie town of 
the era. It was a young community, not yet incorporated. Two main 
streets crossed at the square. The third courthouse in the brief 

MONMOUTH AND THE EA RPS, 1845-1 859 157 

history of the county was the principal building. There was a 
newspaper, a couple stores, a few blacksnniths and livery stables, and 
some hotels and lodging houses. The lawyers, who were relatively 
numerous because of the need for clear title to the farms, had offices 
on the second floors of the principal buildings. The Census of 1850 
listed Monmouth's population at 780, a good portion of which were 
minors. In 1849 the editor of the Atlas wrote the following 


The prospects for building up a town at the county seat of Warren 
county, were never more flattering than at present. Monmouth is now 
fast recovering from a too rapid progress which her citizens made some 
ten years ago, when the town was being built up in advance of the 
country. Speculation is now gone, and the idea of building up towns in 
a day is gone with it. During the past summer, several buildings of the 
most substantial kind have been erected— many of these built several 
years since have been thoroughly repaired and painted and there is 
every appearance of a more rapid improvement the coming spring. 
Heretofore merchants have been much cramped for want of storage 
room, and a convenient place for packing pork, etc. Two large and 
commodious buildings for that purpose have just been finished. . . . 

Besides these improvements, we may mention that two of the 
religious societies have each in contemplation the building of a church 
this coming season. We truly hope they will receive such encouragement 
from their several denominations and our citizens as will warrant them 
in the undertaking. A good church is an ornament to any town— it gives 
dignity and character to a place; and if those who are assembled in it 
are christians, their example will be an incentive to others to live 
virtuous and exemplary lives. We would have no one give for the 
erection of churches, to their own disadvantage, or to the injury of 
their families, but we hope every one will throw in his mite until the 
work is done. Let all do something, and the houses will go up. They are 

A few months later he complained that the public square was a 
"nuisance" and recommended that it be enclosed with a fence and 
seeded with grass or clover: "The 'little folk' then, of whom our 
goodly town boasts a respectable number, instead of the fear of 
being jostled or trodden upon by a crowd of people, hogs or dogs, 
would be safer and, in delight, trip across the protected commons. "^ 
Young Wyatt, then two, would have been among the crowd of 
youngsters mentioned. 

Wyatt's father was a cooper, probably employed in making 
barrels for the slaughtered hogs that were sent downriver from 
Oquawka after being hauled overland from Monmouth. He had five 
children before coming to Illinois. His first wife, Abigail Storm 
(whom he married on December 19, 1836), had died on Octobers, 
1839, leaving him with Newton (b. October 7, 1837) and Mariah 
Ann (b. February 12, 1839). He subsequently married the 
nineteen-year-old Virginia Ann Cooley on June 30, 1840, and she 
presented him with James (b. June 28, 1841), Virgil (b. July 18, 


1843), and Martha (b. September 25, 1845) J o 

The first notice we have of the Earps' activities appeared in 
January of 1847, when the Monmouth "legislature" met to discuss a 
resolution, presented in the December meeting, expressing 
opposition to the Mexican War, The Whig majority, which included 
Walter and Lorenzo "Erp," pressed through an amended resolution 
which stated: "That the present war was commenced unnecessarily, 
as the same might have been settled by negotiation; yet we consider 
it the duty of every American citizen, as we are involved in said war, 
to endeavour to bring it to a speedy and honorable conclusion on the 
part of the United States, but reserve to ourselves the right to judge 
and investigate the necessity of said war."^ ^ 

C. K. Smith of the Atlas apparently came to know the Earps 
better subsequently, for he never again misspelled their name. 
Considering that they shared many of his views about politics and 
religion — the Earps were Whigs, supported the 
Harding-Quinby-Paine-Stapp faction on local issues, and were 
presumably "dry" on the liquor issue as a result of their Methodist 
connection— it is surprising how few times their names appeared in 
print. Nicholas was mentioned on June 11 as having been at the 
courthouse meeting on the seventh to plan a Fourth of July 
celebration "with one or more addresses, and a Picknick dinner in 
the grove near Monmouth, and other appropriate ceremonies." He 
was one of the committeemen assigned to correspond with and make 
arrangements for the reception of the volunteers for a company to go 
to Mexico. Presumably his connection with Wyatt Berry Stapp lay 
behind this interest, for he subsequently enlisted as 3rd sergeant in 
Stapp's company and in August left for Quincy, St. Louis, New 
Orleans, and Mexico. "i ^ Stapp had long been associated with the 
local militia, and the tragic death of his young wife in February had 
affected him greatly. The need to travel, perhaps to fight, was strong. 
Nicholas' reason for departure was never mentioned. Certainly it was 
not easy to ignore the weekly stories of the war, for the Atlas was 
filled with articles taken from other newspapers and with letters 
from local men. Nor did the editor hesitate to enter recruiting 


Is there anybody here for General Taylor? 

Another call has been made upon the people for volunteers for Mexico. 
Shall we respond to that call? Ample provision has been made by 
congress for the pay and maintenance of the troops and there is a fair 
prospect for active employment. Our friends and brothers, under the 
command of General Taylor, are in danger. A handful of men, brave 
and noble spirits, with Taylor at their head, are surrounded by a large 
and well appointed army. Will we not fly to their rescue? There is more 
fighting to be done— more laurels to be won. Santa Anna is there in 

MONMOUTH AND THE EARPS, 1845-1859 159 

large forces: but Taylor, and Scott, and Worth are also there, to lead us 
to victory. A company of Dragoons would be received, if reported 
soon. We propose to raise such a company. All those wishing to 
volunteer can report themselves at Monmouth, to the following 
volunteers, who will keep the muster rolls, viz: 

W. B. Stapp 

G. W. Palmer 

G. C. Lanpherel3 

The Atlas had praise enough for the ninety-one men who were to 
wear the dark blue roundabout trimmed with yellow, the light blue 
pants, and the blue cloth cap: "We need not say to the volunteers, 
that they are going to Mexico to prove that lllinoisians are brave and 
intelligent— but it may be well to remind them, that they go to 
maintain the honor of our state, and prove to the unenlightened 
Mexicans, the superiority of a true Republican soldiery, both in word 
and in deed.''^ ^ 

Nicholas was not mentioned prominently in any of the 
dispatches or letters. His name appeared on the muster roll printed 
August 27, three weeks after the unit departed, and then it vanished. 
The Monmouth dragoons were not given exciting duty, having 
arrived too late to participate in Scott's expedition to Mexico City. 
They were assigned to patrol the roads between Vera Cruz and 
Jalapa, and whenever a skirmish did occur, Jack Hayes' Texas 
Rangers insisted on doing the fighting. The lllinoisians, consequently, 
had no one killed in action during their nine months in Mexico. On 
the other hand, they lost nineteen men to disease, and sixteen had to 
be sent home to recover from serious illnesses. Nicholas was among 
this latter group, being discharged in December of 1847. (In 1877 he 
wrote that he had been disabled, kicked in the groin by a mule.) He 
arrived back in Monmouth in February of 1848.^ ^ 

A month after Nicholas returned, on March 19, 1848, his wife 
presented him with a son. He named him after his commander, Wyatt 
Berry Stapp Earp. 

In the meantime Walter Earp had attained a post of some small 
distinction in the community, being one of the three men elected 
Justice of the Peace. ^ ^ His duties were minor, and rarely made their 
way to public notice. Periodically there was a short marriage 
announcement in the Atlas— such as, "MARRIED. On the 15th inst. 
two miles North of Monmouth, by Walter Earp, Esq. . . ."^ ^ 

Presumably he also participated in the popular outcry against 
liquor shops: "A large and respectable meeting of the citizens of 
Monmouth, held at the courthouse ... for the purpose of taking into 
consideration the propriety of granting a license to sell ardent spirits 
by the dram. . . ."^ ^ After this resolution was passed, arrests for 
violation of the drinking ordinace became common, and may have 
given the impression that a crime spree had begun. ^ ^ 

Monmouth residents were already upset by what they considered 


a high degree of lawbreaking. Although the number of crimes 
reported is quite small, farmers were very concerned about 
horsetheft. Already in Knox and Henderson counties protective 
societies had been formed, and there had been a small civil war in the 
Massac county between "Regulators" and "Flatheads," won by the 
former through combined use of trials, whipping, and tar and 
feathers.2 In Monmouth, however, the crime wave was mostly 
psychological. Josiah Whitman, discovering his horse missing, hurried 
into town to order handbills describing the animal and offering a 
reward for the thief, only to return to his farm and discover his horse 
had hidden itself in some timber-^"" The warning "HORSETHIEVES 
TAKE CARE" was only an indication that people were upset. And 
when a protective society was organized nearby, the Earps were not 
mentioned as either organizers or members.22 To the embarrassment 
of the community, when a horsethief was finally arrested, tried, and 
convicted, he promptly escaped from the jail. ^3 

Crime was not the problem of the period, and the Earps had no 
opportunity to become famous lawmen in western Illinois. The 
principal problem was to build a community while California and 
Oregon lured away numerous young people. The Atlas editor must 
have been a frustrated man, on the one hand running story after 
story about gold fields and fertile farms, which was necessary to sell 
papers, and at the same time attempting to discourage emigration. 
Nichols reputedly longed to go to the West, but the trip was too long 
and too expensive. However, he did move a little further in that 
direction, to Iowa, in 1 849.^4 

The year he left Monmouth was an exciting one for the 
community. A railroad boom had begun in October of 1849 and 
culminated in a public meeting in December to organize the Peoria 
and Oquawka Railroad. Wyatt Berry Stapp was prominent among the 
boomers.2 5 |n January of 1850 a proposal for township organization 
was introduced. And a crackdown on liquor consumption was soon 
conducted. Monmouth was about to become a town, and later, in 
September of 1852, the citizens voted 139-19 to incorporate the 
city. 2 6 

The Earps who remained in Monmouth were not prominent 
citizens. Francis was elected a delegate to the Whig County 
Convention in August of 1851, but it was Paine who was elected to 
attend the State Convention. However, they were a reputable 
family— clerks, gardeners, drovers, express drivers, and livery stable 
workers. Walter C. Earp was elected constable and sworn into office 
March 8, 1851; and Francis Earp served as town marshal in 1 855.2 ^ 
Walter Earp merited a respectable obituary at his death on January 
30, 1853: 



Pioneer Cemetery, Monmouth. 

Died— in this city, of apoplexy, on Sunday morning last, WALTER 
EARP, Esq. aged 66. 

Mr. Earp ate his breakfast and went to his office as usual on 
Saturday morning, where he was found soon after vomiting and nearly 
insensible. He was immediately removed to his place of residence and a 
physician was called, but death had commenced its work, and on the 
following morning died with scarcely a struggle. In the afternoon of the 
same day his remains were followed to the grave by a large circle of 
relatives and friends, deeply lamenting his sudden demise. Since his 
residence here, he has possessed the confidence of our citizens, who 
have elected him to the office of justice of the peace. He has been a 
member of the Methodist Church for the last 45 years and was highly 
esteemed for his upright and Christian deportment, which he carried 
into his daily business transactions. ^^ 

Although apparently sickly for many of her early years, his 
widow survived until September 24, 1881. She grew stronger and 
healthier, and was deeply involved in the work of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church. Walter and Martha Earp were buried in the 
pioneer cemetery near Monmouth College. The small headstone that 
marked the plot was stolen in 1960. Only the fragment of a child's 
marker remains at the site.^^ 

Nicholas returned to Monmouth in early 1856.^° Whether he 
had done poorly in Marion County, Iowa, or wanted to educate his 
children in a booming community that now boasted a railroad, a 


public school system, and a college, or to seek employment, is not 
known. He was not prominent in the community, although he was 
one of the founders of the Republican Party in Monmouth, joining 
with the leading former Whigs to organize a Fremont Club on 
September 13, 1856. And he was one of the committee of three that 
circulated papers and helped to organize the huge rally of eight to 
ten thousand Republicans that gathered in Monmouth on October 
third of that year to hear Governor Grimes of Iowa speak. ^1 His 
daughter Virginia was born during this stay, in 1858,3 2 and in April 
of that year he ran a respectable third in the election of 
constables. 22 In early 1859 he returned to Iowa with his family. ^^ 
Wyatt and his brothers must have attended public school in 
Monmouth for these two years. ^ 5 

Monmouth was not forgotten. When the Civil War broke out, the 
two elder boys left home to enlist in Warren County regiments: 
Virgil in the 83rd (being remembered fondly by the editor of the 
Evening Gazette as late as 1900), and James in the 17th Volunteer 
Infantry. Wyatt reputedly was left in Iowa to manage the farm, being 
but fourteen years of age in 1862.^6 

That ended the connection of Wyatt Earp with Monmouth, 
Illinois. Although legend— through Stuart Lake— has mistakenly 
drawn him back in the fall of 1868, to marry "the daughter of a 
family neighbor to his grandparents."2 7 This story, which concludes 
with the death of his bride in a typhus epidemic, is confused with 
Wyatt's brief stay in Lamar, Missouri, where he married Willa 
Sutherland, who died in 1870.3 8 

It was there, in Lamar, that he held his first job as a lawman, 
winning a close election for town sheriff, 137-108.39 Stuart Lake 
compounded the confusion by saying that Wyatt had stayed with his 
grandfather, Walter, who had wanted the young man to study the 
law with him.'^o It was, of course, impossible for Wyatt to study 
with his deceased grandfather. But if he had returned to Monmouth, 
the example of his cousin would not have helped the legend: 
Lorenzo was convicted of running a saloon and gambling house. "^^ 

In any case, Wyatt followed his father's example and went West. 
The Earps were not model citizens— Jim was a saloonkeeper and 
professional gambler; Warren was a stage driver, who was killed in a 
saloon quarrel; Morgan was a laborer, stage driver, and gunman, shot 
in the back while playing pool in a saloon; Virgil was a stage driver, 
ranch hand, prospector, and town marshal; and Wyatt was simply 
one of the most successful publicity seekers in American history.'*^ 
Nevertheless, is there an American who has not heard of them? And 
is there a citizen of Warren County who does not identify Monmouth 
as Wyatt's birthplace? 

What then did Wyatt's family contribute to western Illinois in 
1846-1850 and in 1856-1859? Contrary to Lake's statements, they 

MONMOUTH AND THE EARPS, 1845-1859 163 

apparently gave very little beyond ordinary work and citizenship. 
Walter was a quiet, elderly justice of the peace; his sons were small 
farmers and laborers; and the numerous grandchildren were too 
young to do anything worth public notice. They came, they lived, 
and they died or moved away. Only the legend came back, and it was 
never an effective force in the community."*^ Although the popular 
high school principal, later Dean of Men at Monmouth College, 
Frank Phillips, gave many lectures on Wyatt Earp in the 1950s (and 
recorded one for posterity, depositing it in the Warren County 
Library), the legend was too quickly debunked for it to have much 

The real Wyatt Earp is what each person believes he was. There 
seems to be no middle ground— one is either for or against Wyatt and 
his legend. Certainly there were lawmen in the family, and Civil War 
veterans too; and Wyatt was tough enough to make the legend 
believable. Monmouth was torn between those extreme judgments, 
except in the 1950's, when the Wyatt Earp rage was at its height. At 
that time, a commemorative plaque was erected at the town park.'*^ 
Today, few persons can point it out. 

Over the years, a number of Monmouth residents have stopped in 
Tombstone, to mention that they were from Wyatt's birthplace, only 
to get a "cold shoulder," discovering too late that they were in one 
of the few places in America where Wyatt is not remembered kindly. 
And the community has occasionally suffered some ridicule, as from 
Life's full page ad for Wells Fargo: "If Wyatt Earp had been less of a 
rugged individualist, he would have stayed in Monmouth, lllinois."^^ 
But on the whole the citizens take it well. For better or worse, 
outsiders have at least heard of Wyatt Earp, and that forms an instant 
bond between Monmouth residents and the rest of America. 


^ Stuart Lake, Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1955), pp. 

^ Frank Waters, The Earp Brothers of Tombstone; the story of Mrs. Virgil Earp (New 
York: C. N. Potter, 1960), pp. 6-7; Nyle H. Miller and Joseph W. Snell, Great Gunfighters of 
The Kansas Cowtowns, 1867-1886 (Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1963), pp. 78-95; 
Peter Lyons, "The Wild, Wild West," American Heritage (August, 1960), 42-47. 

^ Hugh Moffat commented on the reticient habits of the Atlas editor, saying, "Perhaps 
little was going on in the young city. . . ." But he preferred to think that concern was for 
national topics, information that one could not get by daily conversation. See Moffat's 
Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Warren County (Chicago: Munsell, 1903), 
p. 778; Monmouth Atlas, 4 Feb. 1853. 

Mrs. William Irvine of Milwaukie, Oregon, has done extensive work on the Earp 
genealogy. This extensive but chaotic mine of records, letters, obituaries, newspaper stories, 
and other information was published in a series of mimeographed booklets in 1958. (Cited 
as Earp Family Data, the name given by Mrs. Irvine.) A copy of this is possessed by Ralph 
Eckley of the Monmouth Review Atlas. For Walter's family, see pages 1, 40, 98-104. 


^ Census of 1850 for Warren County, Illinois. 

^ Although the legend says that the Earps came to Warren County in 1843 (Lake, p. 4), 
the 1850 census for the county indicates that they were in Kentucky as late as 1845. 
Moreover, obituaries of James, Lorenzo, and Josiah in 1900 and 1901 give 1846 as the date 
they settled in Monmouth. See Hugh Moffat, "Do You Remember . . ." Review Atlas, 29 
Oct. 1944, 12 Mar. 1945, and 17 Aug. 1945. Nicholas Earp was certainly in Monmouth by 
September 20, 1845, that being the date he bought lot two on Block 1 2 in Monmouth from 
Nelson Alley. That was on the southeast corner of East Archer and North First Street. 
(Entry book, vol. 3, p. 174, Recorder's Office, Warren County Courthouse.) His daughter 
was born five days later. No other Earps purchased lots before 1851, and none purchased 
farm land. The house at Archer and First was probably Wyatt's birthplace. 

^ See the Adjutant General's Report. Volume IX: Record of the Services of Illinois 
Soldiers in the Black Hawk War 1831-32 and in the Mexican War 1846-48 (Springfield: 
Journal Company, 1902) and The Black Hawk War 1831-1832, I, ed. Ellen M. Whitney 
(Springfiald; Illinois State Historical Library, 1970). See also footnote 15. 

° Atlas, 23 Nov. 1849. Theodore Carlson explained the slow growth of prairie towns 
before the arrival of the railroad as a result of the high costs of transporting crops and 
animals to markets and hauling necessary bulk items such as fencing and lumber. See The 
Illinois Military Tract, a Study of Land Occupation, Utilization and Tenure (Urbana: Univ. 
of Illinois Press, 1951 ), pp. 107-09. 

^ Atlas, 3 May 1850. On February 22, 1850, a farmer complained about the "number 
of colts and horned cattle running at large in the streets." 

^^ Earp Family Data, pp. 38, 99. An attractive picture of Wyatt's mother, "one of the 
sweetest people that ever lived," was penned by Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp. See / Married 
Wyatt Earp, ed. Glenn Boyer (Tucson: Univ. of Arizona Press, 1976), pp. 129-32. 

^^ Atlas, 29 Jan. 1847. 

^^ Adjutant General's Report, IX p. 308; numerous letters from participants were 
printed in the Atlas, but none, alas, from Earp or which even mention him, other than 
William Day's letter (25 Dec. 1847), listing him among the disabled at Vera Cruz. The 
Atlas, 11 Feb. 1848, p. 2. 

'^'^ Atlas, 2 Apr. 1847. 

■■^ Ibid., 30 July 1847. 

^°The first application was not successful. Nicholas wrote on his pension application, 
January 17, 1893: "I received a specific disability occasioned by the kick of a mule in my 
groin from which I have never recovered, this disability being received at Magdalene, Mexico 
while in active service for my country. I was also in the Black Hawk War where I also served 
my country being a survivor of three wars and being of age of 79 years believe am entitled 
to some consideration from my country." Affidavits were signed by George C. Lanphere 
(sic) and Richard Hatton, who was with him at the time of the injury. National Archives, 
cited Earp Family Data, p. 37; Adjutant General's Report, IX, 308. 

^^ Atlas, 13 Aug. 1847. 

'^'^ Atlas, 23 Mar., 27 Apr., 27 July, 1848; 19 July 1850; 30 July 1852. 

^ ^ Ibid., 1 7 Sept. 1848; Francis Earp was a member of the Sons of Temperance. Ibid., 8 
Sept. 1853. 

^^ Ibid., 26 Apr., 1850, and 25 Apr., 1852 (one case of horsetheft, three of larceny, and 
fifteen of selling liquor). 


Ibid., 22 Jan. 1847. 

^^ Ibid., 22 Sept. 1847; On August 30, 1850, a burglary was discovered when one of the 
young thieves tried to return his part of the loot wrapped in a cloth with a note inside 

MONMOUTH AND THE EARPS, 1845-1859 165 

saying that he "repented of his indiscretion," having gone along with his friends under the 
influence of alcohol. He was soon arrested and his accomplices discovered. More serious 
thievery doubtless existed, of course, as the Septennber 6, 1850, issue noted when 
Greenbush organized a protective society: "We regard this movement as a good one, and 
believe it to be perhaps the only manner in which the horde of thieves and counterfeiters 
now infesting this portion of the state, can be routed and driven away. Hardly a day passes 
we do not hear of stealing of some sort in our immediate vicinity or near by. The band has 
become thoroughly organized, and the actors are so expert that it is with the greatest 
difficulty that any clue or proof can be got at of sufficient importance to convict those who 
may be arrested. Horses are taken away as by magic, and nothing more is heard of them; 
saddles which have been carefully hung up are missing, and no one knows whence they have 
gone. One of our merchants informed us Tuesday evening that he had missed money from 
his drawer on several occasions, and upon examing his premises closely, found a window 
which he had accidentally left unfastened. The money had doubtless gone out the window." 

Ibid., 6 Sept. 1950. Nor were they among the many "detectives" appointed to hunt 
out criminals and drunks in the wards. (Ibid., 1 Apr. 1 853). Walter C. Earp was a constable 
in 1851, and in 1855, Francis Earp served as town marshal, according to The Past and 
Present of Warren County, Illinois (Chicago: Kett, 1877), p. 159. 

"^"^ Atlas, 27 May 1852. 

Nicholas sold his home to Jerriah Massey on March 1, 1849. Entry book, vol. 4, p. 
11; Census of 1850 for Marion County, Iowa, p. 590. 

"^^ Atlas, 21 Dec. 1849. 

2^ Ibid., 4 Jan. and 26 Apr. 1850, and 12 Sept. 1852. In 1841 Ebenezer Welch wrote of 
Monmouth, "Rum drinking (or rather whisky) is quite fashionable here; it is not uncommon 
to see boys 8 or 9 years old drunk," in Prairie State: Impressions of Illinois 1673-1967 by 
Travelers and Other Observers, ed. Paul Angel (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1968), pp. 

"^^ Past and Present, pp. 159, 298; Walter C. Earp gave a $1000 bond on March 20, 
^85^ (Review Atlas, 18 Jan. 1962, p. 4). 


Atlas, 4 Feb. 1853. Lorenzo was appointed administrator of the estate the next day. 
Box 20, County Clerk's office, Monmouth. 

^^ Ralph Eckley, "Get Fine Story of the Wife of Walter Earp," Review Atlas, 16 Feb. 
1956, p. 2. 

•^^ On March 10, 1856, Nicholas purchased Lot 3 in Block 35, and lots 3 and 6 in Block 
33, i.e., on South B Street midway between 3rd and 4th avenues on the west side, and on 
South A Street, on the east side halfway between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. Entry book 6, p. 83. 

^^ Atlas, 19 Sept. 1856, p. 2. 

^^ 1 860 Census for Marion County, Iowa, p. 228. 

•^•^ Review, 9 Apr. 1858. 

"^ Nicholas and his wife sold their lots, two on February 9, 1859, and the remainder on 
December 13, 1859. Entry book 7, pp. 266, 305. The Census of 1860 for Marion County, 
Iowa, p. 288, shows them back in Pella. 

"^^A letter in the Review of May 7, 1858, indicated that 800-1 200 children were of 
school age in Monmouth. Unfortunately, no lists of pupils remain. The public school system 
had just been introduced in 1855, and in November of 1856 the Union School was opened, 
with seven teachers. The report was that "schools were crowded." History of Warren 
County (1903), II, 754-55. 

"^° At the time of enlistment, James listed Monmouth as his place of residence (Adjutant 
General's Report, II, 190). Virgil listed Pulla (sic), Iowa (Ibid., V, 131). See the story in the 
Review Atlas, 11 Nov. 1958, p. 4, which cites a September 29, 1900 article in the 


Monmouth Evening Gazette. In a letter to the author dated September 1, 1980, Norman 
Milligan related a youthful conversation with an aged and reticent Wyatt Earp: "I did tell Mr. 
Earp that I came from the Warren County area. He stated that he had lived there until his 
middle teens. Also that while his father and elder brothers were away to the Civil War that 
he tended 90 acres of corn that they had planted before leaving. ... As I recall, he described 
the land in corn as being 4 miles west of Monmouth on what I believe was on the north side 
of the road. They had rented the land." 

Lake, pp. 28-29. The local newspapers do not mention a Wyatt Earp in this period; 
however, only the Atlas has a complete run for 1 868-1869. 

° They were married by the Justice of the Peace, N. P. Earp, on January 10, 1870, 
according to the marriage certificate filed in Book A, p. 35, in the Recorder's Office of 
Barton County, Missouri. See Also George W. Earp, "I rode with Wyatt Earp," Readers' 
Digest (December, 1958), pp. 181-86. Waters, p. 29, says, "Wyatt got into a serious quarrel 
with her brothers over her, left town, and drifted into Kansas." 

^^ George W. Earp, p. 183. 

^^ Lake, p. 29, and "Records Fail to Support All of Earp Story," Review Atlas, 28 
Jan. 1956, p. 2. 

Records in the Recorders Office, Warren County Courthouse, Circuit Court Record 
for September 17 and 20, 1869, and January 10 and 20, 1870. Book H. p. 491. In the case 
of "People versus Lorenzo D. Earp" the defendant pled guilty to keeping a gambling house; 
in return, the other charges were dropped. Later, however, he sued the mayor and police 
officers for the destruction of property (his liquor) and won trials in 1872 and 1874 that 
resulted in an award of $2244.86 from the jury ("Do You Remember," Review Atlas, 22 
May and 22 July 1943). Lorenzo Dow was a feared man in the community. He was 
suspected of sending a human ear to an enemy and used to ride his horse right into saloons. 
One old-timer remembered seeing a police officer "driving down the street with his guns 
blazing as he chased Dow, who was driving a buggy ahead of him." Ace Cecka, "Birthplace 
of Wyatt Earp," Galesburg Register Mail (c. 1956)— a clipping possessed by Ralph Eckley of 
Monmouth. See also "Do You Remember?" Review Atlas, 20 May 1946, p. 4. 

Waters, p. 7: "A lifelong exhibitionist ridiculed alike by members of his own family, 
neighbors, contemporaries, and the public press, he lived his last years in poverty, still vainly 
trying to find someone to publicize his life, and died two years before his ficitious 
biography recast him in the role of America's most famous frontier marshal." Glenn Boyer, 
editor of / Married Wyatt Earp, p. 235, calls this book an "extremely bitter and biased 
account," and he gives several pages to "the making of a villain." 

Few adulatory stories appear in the local press, except during the boom-years of the 
1950's, because of the television show, and none appear in the several county histories, 
although there is a continuing interest in the house where Wyatt was supposed to have been 
born. It stands at 913 South Sixth Street, having been moved from 213 South Third about 
1906. Ralph Eckley, on the basis of conversations with "old-timers," believes this to be the 
birthplace. {Review Atlas, 24 July 1956, p. 3.) However, houses at 213, 406, and 913 on 
South Third Street have been suggested as likely places. {Ibid., 28 June and 17 Aug. 1956, 
p. 3, and 15 Aug. 1980, p. 1.) See footnote 5. 

On November 4, 1881, the Monmouth Review (p. 8) ran a story on the Shootout at 
the O.K. Corral, adding, "The Marshal Earp and his brothers, mentioned above, are sons of 
Nicholas Earp, formerly one of the early settlers of Monmouth, who moved to Missouri just 
before the war. His boys show decided pluck, and are the kind of boys to have out in 
Arizona among the outlaws who infest the western country." Hugh Moffat, who reproduced 
this in his column "Do You Remember . .," then remarked that he had Lake's biography in 
his office. {Review Atlas, 5 May 1944.) Later, on May 18, 1950 (p. 4), he found another 
story in the Review of July 26, 1911: "Old friends of Wyatt Earp . . . read with interest of 
his latest mishap in Los Angeles, he having been arrested there a few days ago on the charge 

MONMO UTH AND THE EA RPS, 7 845- 1 859 1 67 

of being implicated in the holdup of a gambling house in which he was employed. . . . Earp 
has been in the west for many years and has had an eventful career. He has been engaged 
successively in mining, gambling, a prize fight referee and other vocations and has broken 
into the headlines several times. On one occasion he refereed a prize fight and his work was 
severely criticized afterward, arousing a great deal of comment in the sporting world. He has 
a number of relatives and friends here and they are reluctant to believe that he would be a 
party to a stick-up game." 

Wyatt's popularity and his legend came, of course, from the cheap novels and stories by 
Ned Buntline, who later gave him the famous "Buntline Special." Hugh O'Brian, who had 
been a student at Roosevelt Military Academy in Aledo, popularized the Lake portrait in his 
television series. (Quad Cities Times-Democrat, 1 Mar. 1959, section 3d, p. 1.) 

^ This was given by the state of Illinois, to be placed on a 9000 pound granite block 
donated by the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad. (Review Atlas, 18 Aug. 1956.) The 
word "marshal" was, however, improperly spelled with two "l"s, and subsequently the 
plaque was stolen, and replaced with a corrected memorial. Monmouth was later to figure in 
another stolen memorial. The tombstone of Wyatt Earp was taken from the cemetery in 
Colma, California (San Francisco Examiner, July 8, 1957). The determined amateur thief 
got away with the 500-pound stone, but failed to reach the marshal's urn despite five feet of 
digging. In September a teenager found a properly worded stone, but one weighing only 25 
pounds, and allowed it to be displayed in a local restaurant. A stranger soon came in, 
claimed to be a San Francisco detective sent to retrieve the stone, and then neither the 
stranger nor the stone were heard of again. 

Theft, indeed, seems to plague Earp memorabilia. The Warren County Library has lost 
most of its vertical file on Wyatt Earp as well as Professor Phillip's record about him. 

^^ Life, 4 June 1971. 


Mark A. Plummer 

On February 22, 1870, Robert G. Ingersoll wrote a jocose private 
letter to his friend, former Illinois governor Richard J. Oglesby, 
commenting upon the eroticism of the Rig-Veda-Sanhita of 
Hinduism. The letter was recently discovered in the Oglesby 
Collection at the Illinois State Historical Library, and it is published 
here for the first timej Ingersoll, who later became the best known 
agnostic in America, was not a prominent atheist in 1870, but the 
Peorian was reading widely and expressing his more iconoclastic 
views in private. As he was preparing himself to smash the Jewish and 
Christian gods, he flirted briefly with the erotic gods of the East, as 
this unique letter demonstrates. 

Although Ingersoll was born (August 11, 1833) and died (July 

21 , 1899) in the state of New York, his formative middle years were 
spent in Illinois. The son of an itinerant Presbyterian minister, he 
moved to southern Illinois in 1851. He attended an academy at 
Greenville, taught school, and was admitted to the bar in 1854. He 
moved to Peoria in 1858 and ran unsuccessfully for Congress as a 
Democrat. During the Civil War he organized a cavalry regiment in 
Peoria and led his troops into battle in Tennessee. Unfortunately, he 
led them into the grasp of Confederate General Nathan B. Forrest, 
who captured Ingersoll and some of his men in 1862. He was paroled 
by Forrest and, when exchange was not forthcoming. Colonel 
Ingersoll resigned his commission. General Richard J. Oglesby first 
met Ingersoll during the Civil War, and they became friends later 
during the war when Ingersoll switched to the Republican Party in 
order to support his brother Ebon Clark Ingersoll for Congress and 
Oglesby for governor. Oglesby was elected in 1864, and when the 
new office of attorney-general was authorized in 1867, he appointed 
Ingersoll to the part-time but well-paying position. ^ Over the next 
decade Ingersoll wrote some thirty private letters to Oglesby which 
have survived. Most of the letters concern politics but two deal 
primarily with religion. 

The first of these witty letters was written to Oglesby on January 

22, 1866, in response to the Governor's "Holy Land" lecture, which 




Robert G. Ingersoll, about 1883. 


he had been giving since his trip to Europe and the iVliddie East in 
1856-57. "When riding through the wilderness, did you happen to 
see any of the clothes worn by the Jews which 'waxed not old.' How I 
should like to see a pair of breeches that would wear forty years 
. . .," he wrote. ^ Oglesby asked permission to read IngersoM's 
fifteen-page letter to his friends. "I do not know when I have read so 
good a letter," he wrote. ^ Ingersoll later sent Oglesby a copy of 
Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary. The latter reported that Sheridan 
Wait (Oglesby's Decatur law partner) "stold [sic] the Philosophical 
Dictionary and is entertaining the Revernd [sic] gentlemen of 
Decatur with it."^ 

On February 22, 1869, Ingersoll wrote to Oglesby from Peoria: 
"Have your religious ideas hived yet, or are they swarming." 
Oglesby's reply has not survived, but IngersoM's ideas were swarming. 
In the spring of 1869 he began giving a revised version of his 
controversial lecture "Progress." Apparently Oglesby heard it in 
Bloomington on March 11, 1869, and ingersoll repeated the oration 
in Decatur on March 25. The editor of the Decatur newspaper 
described the lecture as "an outburst of enthusiastic admiration of 
human REASON as the rightful and supreme sovereign of the 
world. "^ The speaker "delighted hugely and laughingly in the 
exciting work of smashing and overthrow," he wrote. But he 
continued his critique by complaining that too much admiration had 
been given to Voltaire, Volney, and Bolingbrook while failing to 
mention "the only true apostle of liberty, the Savior of Mankind. . . . 
Does the gentleman mean to teach that there is no God but law? This 
doctrine is not point blank Atheism, but it is practically so," he 
concluded. Also in 1868, Ingersoll wrote the lecture "Humboldt," 
and in 1870 he wrote "Thomas Paine." It is probable that this thanks 
to Oglesby "for the flattering manner in which you refer to my 
oration" (see below) referred to one of these lectures. A search of 
the Springfield and Peoria papers for the first three weeks of 
February, 1870, produced no evidence that an oration was given. 
Hence, it is likely that Ingersoll had sent Oglesby a copy of the 
oration in question. 

IngersoM's "Sensual Gods" letter is apparently something of a 
playful aberration. Although he wrote that he was "a little in love 
with the religion of Brahma," his subsequent lectures show only a 
general awareness of the non-western religions. As he later wrote to a 
Jewish friend, "I have equal prejudice against all religions."^ In 
1874, Ingersoll published his collected lectures, entitled The Gods, 
Humboldt, Thomas Paine, Individuality, and Heretics and Heresies. ^ 
They show little influence from reading the Rig Veda. In 1876 
Ingersoll gained national fame because of his "James G. Blaine, the 
Plumed Knight" nomination speech at the Republican National 


Convention and his famous "bloody shirt" campaign speech. This 
newly-won fame enabled him to attract larger audiences and 
emboldened him in presenting his agnostic orations. In 1877 
Ingersoll left Peoria and joined his brother, former Congressman 
Ebon Clark Ingersoll, in the practice of law in Washington, D.C. As a 
lawyer, he successfully represented many unpopular defendants, and 
during this time, he also began delivering orations which were 
"point-blank atheism." In 1855 he moved to New York where he 
became the center of the debate over agnosticism and the anathema 
of most fundamentalist preachers in the nation. He died in 1899 in 
Dobbs Ferry, New York, but the only monument honoring him 
stands in Glen Oak Park in Peoria. 

The Rig- Veda- Sanhita is the oldest and most important work of 
Vedic literature. The "Veda of praise" comprise the most sacred and 
ancient scriptures of Hinduism. Much of the Rig-Veda was composed 
by 1800 B.C., and it is sometimes claimed (as Ingersoll asserted) that 
it is the world's oldest book. There is no way of knowing what 
edition Ingersoll was reading. By 1870 F. Max Miller had completed 
four volumes (of six) of his English translation of Rig-Veda-Sanhita, 
the Sacred IHymns of tfie Brahmas, but Horace H. Wilson had 
completed his translation between 1850 and 1866.^ Because the 
collection is massive, it is probable that Ingersoll was reading a 
condensed, popular version of the hymns. 

The complete text of the letter is transcribed below. The original 
punctuation has been retained, except that dashes at the end of 
sentences have been transcribed as periods. 

Springfield Feby 22 [18]70lO 

My Dear Friend; 

I am greatly obliged for the flattering manner in which you refer to 
my oration. The applause of friends is the very best of pay. I have 
be[en] reading the Rig-Veda-Sanhita, the oldest book in the world. My 
mind is full of Maruts, Indias, Vishnus and Aditis.H I think of nothing 
but ghostly embraces, heavenly adulteries, and divine fornications. 
Gods liable under the bastardy act are as thick as fleas in warm sand. All 
the divinities of India are at my tongues end. To tell the truth I am a 
little in love with the religion of Brahma. After all we are rather like 
gods with passions— with hopes and fears— Gods that fight, suffer and 
love. Gods with eyes for the beautiful— with hands that have a longing 
to touch bosoms. Gods that sympathize with us. Give me a God that 
has kissed moles between breasts; Give me a goddess that has [f] elt the 
warm mouth of a God at her nipples. I prefer Olympus to Sinai — I had 
rather show myself to Leda than to Moses. I cannot bear to think that 
the universe is governed by an infinite eunuch. I like mythology better 
than theology. I had rather carry off a girl on my horns, as Jupiter did, 
than to teach the art of circumcision. It is better to create than to 
destroy. The penis is a more delightful weapon than the sword, i had 
rather make love than war. I had rather be Antony with Cleopartra 
[sic] than Caesar with Rome. There is nothing better under the sun 
than to enjoy the fruits of your labor in the arms of the woman you 


This I consider an end of the whole matter, and from this time 
henceforth you may consider me a pagan. Every river will have its 
divinity. In the waves I will see her breasts. Every sweet valley will have 
its presiding genius, and under the beautiful trees she will recline naked 
la[s] civious and enchanting. Everywhere I will see white arms— eyes will 
beckon with amorous glances. I shall be invited to couches of moss. I 
shall feel myself clasped to bosoms that have the precision of Marble 
and the undulation of the waves. 

I have bid adieu to the cold religions of the North. I have embraced 
the doctrine of the sensual. I shall float away into the roseate depths of 
eternal Passion— the incarnation of the sexual. 

Yours forever Robert G. Ingersoll 

I want you to come and stay with me a week, a month, a year. Fix your 
time. 12 I will arrange my business so that I can be wholly yours. 


The Oglesby Family Collection at the Illinois State Historical Library in Springfield 
(hereafter cited as Oglesby Collection) contains twenty-nine other Ingersoll letters. 
Twenty-seven of these letters have been published under the title "Goodbye dear Governor. 
You are my best friend: The Private Letters of Robert G. Ingersoll to Richard J. Oglesby, 
1 867-77," Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, 73 ( 1 980), 78-1 1 6. 

2 The best brief chronology of Ingersoll is in David D. Anderson, Robert Ingersoll (New 
York: Twayne Publishers, 1972). 


The complete text of the "Holy Land" letter is scheduled for publication in the 
Illinois Quarterly, 43 (Fall, 1980). 

Oglesby's reply, written from Springfield on 28 Jan. 1867, is also in the Oglesby 

Oglesby to Ingersoll, 11 June 1867, found in Governor's Correspondence, Richard 
James Oglesby (1st term). Record Series 101.14, Illinois State Archives, Springfield. 

° Decatur (weekly) Republican, 1 Apr. 1869, p. 6. 

Ingersoll to the editor of The American Hebrew, 4 Apr. 1 890, as cited in The Letters 
of Robert G. Ingersoll, ed. Eva Ingersoll Wakefield (New York: Philosophical Library, 
1951), pp. 691-92. 


(Springfield) Illinois State Journal, 13 Jun. 1874, p. 2. The orations have been 

published in The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, ed. C. P. Farreli (New York: The Dresden 

Pub. Co., 1902), I, 7-253. 

^ See James A. Santucci, An Outline of Vedic Literature (Missoula, Montana: Scholars 

Press, 1976). Miller compares his translation to Wilson's in his Vedic Hymns (Oxford: 
Clarendon Press, 1891). See also Geoffrey Parrinder, Dictionary of Non-Christian Religions 
(London: Hulton Educational Publications, Ltd., 1971). 

After Oglesby and Ingersoll completed their terms of office in 1869, most of 
Ingersoll's letters were written from Peoria. This letter may have been written from 
Springfield because the U.S. Circuit and District Courts were in session. See (Springfield) 
Illinois State Journal, 6 Feb. 1 870, p. 3. Ingersoll often represented clients in the Springfield 

^ ^ Indian deities. See Parrinder, pp. 1 0, 1 35, 1 78, 301 . 

•'The Decatur (weekly) Republican reported on 4 Aug. 1870, p. 2: "Col. R. G. 
Ingersoll, of Peoria, was in town yesterday visiting with Governor Oglesby." For more 
information on Oglesby's family and career see my "Richard J. Oglesby and His Decatur 
House," Historic Illinois, 2 (1979), 12-15. 



Victor Hicken 

Even in the old implications of the word, the 1890's were not 
"gay." But it was true, especially in the cities, that the middle class 
enjoyed the almost yearly technological advances which America's 
prolific inventors were adding to the country's growing advantages. 
And, if one were willing and able, as well as necessarily brilliant, he 
or she could fulfill the dream of the standard Horatio Alger plot. It 
was proven time and time again that children of a middle- or even 
lower-class family could rise and become rich and successful. With 
those achievements, of course, came also the admiration and respect 
of society. 

Like a great many aspects of life, the opportunities which 
America offered were like the proverbial coin of the realm; they had 
two sides. In the twenty -five years since the end of the Civil War, a 
laissez-faire society, untrammeled by government regulation, had 
allowed the rich to become exceedingly rich and the poor to become 
poorer. Hamlin Garland, a midwestern writer of the period, noted 
the growing disparity between life on the farm and life in the 
middle-class towns of the Great Plains. On the other hand, Jacob 
Rils, the Danish-American reformer, pointed his finger at the cities 
and graphically illustrated the terrible discrepancies between life in 
the ghettos and life among the more privileged. ^ 

With respect to Hell's Kitchen in New York, to Murderers' Row 
in Chicago, and to the drudgery of the American farm, one could 
write with some assurance that these sides of the coin were not 
completely invisible. At least, Riis and Garland saw them, and so did 
dozens of other writers. If one were to target 1890 as a specific date, 
one might add that the same could not be said of those who worked 
the coal pits of America. The coal miner was there, and his numbers 
were in the tens of thousands and growing by the day. Almost more 
than anyone else, he represented the unseen American. No one wrote 
songs about him. He was less a part of American literature in 1890 
than were the blacks of both the South and North. Gone from his 
mining-camp home before dawn and returning to it after dark. 



sometimes living in mining villages surrounded by barbed wire, his 
only comforts were those provided by the sanctity of the bedroom 
and the consolation found in a bottle. 

These facts were true in Pennsylvania and Kentucky, where coal 
mines had fueled the industrial revolution for years, and they were 
increasingly true in Illinois where, by 1890, new pits were being 
opened with increasing frequency. In that state, almost everything 
was in a feverish state of flux. Even textbooks and newspapers were 
encouraging the use of the phrase "Prairie State" rather than "Sucker 
State." Chicago had burned and was rebuilding, becoming what a 
future poet would call the "city of big shoulders." The big shoulders 
belonged to newly-arrived immigrants who worked in the steel mills 
or the factories, and they worked so hard and so long each day that 
the need of Chicago for more and more coal was an economic fact of 
life. So did Germanic St. Louis, across the Mississippi River from 
southern Illinois. Between the two cities ran railroads, and they, in 
turn, crossed over the rich, black coal fields of St. Clair, Macoupin, 
Montgomery, and Christian counties— so rich, indeed, that nearly 100 
years after their first major economic development, their contents 
are probably ninety-nine percent intact. 

Most of the coal produced in Illinois in 1890 came from three 
areas of the state: the Spring Valley and Coal City area in the 
northern half; the St. Clair County area near St. Louis; and that part 
of Illinois known by tradition as "Little Egypt." Williamson County 
mines had been opened as early as 1869, and by 1890 the county's 
coal production had reached 200,000 tons a year.^ 

This is not to say that there was no coal production elsewhere. 
Indeed, there were some sixty or seventy two- and three-man shallow 
pits near Colchester, in McDonough County; the coal there was so 
close to the surface that dogs were used to pull the small drays from 
the workings to the cave openings. There were also small shafts near 
Gillespie, in Macoupin County. According to early geological survey 
maps, most of these had closed operations as early as 1880. 

The fact is that coal deposits in Illinois have the subterranean 
shape of a saucer, with the rim near the surface of the ground in 
southern and western Illinois. The base of that saucer runs through 
south central Illinois; hence the need for deeper shafts in that area. 
Being compressed at a greater depth and probably older, the coal 
there was of a slightly higher quality. The only problem in the 1870's 
or 1880's was the lack of mechanized equipment to bring the coal 
from the face of the seam to the surface, a difficulty which found 
correction by the development of more mechanized systems to 
produce the coal. By 1890, the Ellsworth Coal Company was either 
sinking or considering mines in the Mt, Olive and Staunton areas of 
Macoupin County. Soon operations were extended by various 


concerns to Carlinville, Litchfield, Hillsboro, Witt, Nokomis, and 
Coalton in both Macoupin and Montgomery Counties. 

The extent of the growth of coal production in those two 
counties can be illustrated by a few figures. In 1906, for example, 
the Shoal Creek Company sunk its Mine No. 1 at Panama, in 
Montgomery County. It required eighty-seven workers in its initial 
year, 230 a year later, 375 in 1908, and 433 by 1910. Over 
eighty-five percent of its coal in 1910 was mined and brought to the 
surface by machines. 

In Macoupin County, the Inspector of Mines reported in 1910 
that there were twenty-two mines in operation, seventeen on which 
were shipping coal to various industrial centers elsewhere. Four of 
the shipping mines were in or around Virden, one was at Girard, one 
was at Carlinville, one at Nil wood, one at Green Ridge, three at 
Gillespie, two at Mt. Olive, and four near Staunton. It might be 
added parenthetically that two other mines lay just across the 
Madison County line from Staunton, and that most of the men who 
worked in them actually lived in that Macoupin town. The total coal 
production of all Macoupin mines in 1910 was 4,040,436 tons, and 
all twenty-two mines employed a total of 4,681 men. Once again, 
parenthetically, the inspector reported one revealing statistic: of the 
total number of miners employed in the shafts, some 150 boys were 
among them, although no age levels for this group were 
given. 2 

Villages and small settlements became minor boom towns 
overnight. Between Gillespie and Staunton pit villages appeared 
carrying the names of Benid, Sawyerville, Eagerville, and Mt. Clare. 
The first of these took its name from the ineptitude of an itinerant 
sign painter who fell while attempting to paint the name of a mine 
developer, Ben L. Dorsay, on the tipple. He was hurt and unable to 
finish his work, and so, from that point on, the settlement was 
known as Ben L. D., the first five letters of the mine owner's name. 

Working the deeper pits of Macoupin and Montgomery counties 
was considerably different than the effort required in many of the 
shallow mines in southern Illinois. The labor pool which fed these 
new mines was principally immigrant, and the workers came from 
every European country, including Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. 
Italians and Russians flocked to BenId, the presence of the latter 
being marked by the continuing presence of a quaintly beautiful 
Orthodox church. Croatians, Serbians, Bohemians, Ukrainians, 
Hungarians, Letts, Lithuanians, Germans, and British also came. 
While not seeking to demean the hard working and ambitious 
immigrants from other lands, it would be fair to say that the more 
skilled deep-pit miners and, indeed, the most activist in terms of the 
mine unions were those from Scotland, Wales, England, and Ireland. 


Consider the case of the Panama mines. Of the 1,500 people 
living in that Montgomery County town in 1910, the predominant 
ethnic group was Italian, with a score of other elements represented 
in lesser numbers. Yet, with all of this ethnic variety, only one name 
is remembered out of that hectic period, and that is John Llewellyn 
Lewis, of Welsh heritage from Iowa. Those British who came to work 
the mines around the turn of the century were hard-bitten, acerbic, 
and cynical men who had already cut their teeth on the emerging 
trade unionism of Britain. As one Scot remarked some forty years 
after settling in Gillespie, "When I came to America to work in the 
mines, I was determined never to tip my cap to the man who owned 
the mine.'"* It is strange but true that after all of the blood and the 
suffering of miners in this country, the only great novel to which 
American miners might relate is How Green Was My Valley, written 
by Richard Llewellyn. It is a moving story about mining and mine 
unionism, not in the United States but in Wales. 

Early evidence of the militancy of the new immigrants to 
Macoupin County was shown in the coal strike of 1894. Although 
the bankrupt United Mine Workers accepted the offer of operators in 
early June, miners of southeast Illinois simply refused to obey the 
agreement. On nine different occasions the state militia was sent to 
various parts of the region to quell disturbances. These actions by the 
governor brought commendations from some newspapers, par- 
ticularly the Chicago Tribune. That paper argued that, under the 
circumstances, perhaps the new and troublesome immigrant workers 
might be speeded back to the lands of their birth. The militia was 
especially needed in the Mt. Olive area of Macoupin County, for 
there the miners had continuously interfered with trains carrying 
coal from the nonunion fields of the south. 

Some of this activity may have been inspired by a fascinating 
character named Alexander Bradley. Sometimes claimed by Mt. 
Olive, and later nicknamed "the General," Bradley was an 
Englishborn, nebulous character who flitted in and out of mine issues 
for over forty years. Always flamboyantly dressed, he was a 
quadrennial candidate for one office or another on the Socialist 
ticket, and he played a part in one of the most violent episodes in 
Illinois mining history. ^ 

What Bradley and others saw in the mine fields of Illinois was a 
kind of industrial feudalism supported by both the law and the 
political establishment. The famous muckraker, Henry D. Lloyd, 
described the system as a "pustule of a disease spread through the 
whole body." The average annual income of a Macoupin or 
Montgomery County miner in 1897 was approximately $190. For 
this he worked 179 ten-hour days each year. Out of this princely sum 
the miner supplied his own tools and his own transportation. This 


reason alone would account for the militant willingness of Macoupin 
and Montgomery County miners to join the United Mine Workers 
coal strike of 1897.6 

Some six months later, in 1898, the operators settled on terms 
which were considered as a victory for the union. But the ordeal was 
not over. Led by operators who owned mines stretching along the 
Chicago and Alton Railroad, a segment of management balked at the 
new contract. Strongest among the protestors were the 
Chicago-Virden Coal Company and the Pana Coal Company, The 
former was a power to be reckoned with. Its mine at Virden was the 
largest single producer in the state, hoisting 348,000 tons a year prior 
to the 1897 strike. Even when a national board returned findings in 
favor of the miners, both the Virden and the Pana companies argued 
that they simply would not accept the findings. 

Through the early months of 1898, the situation at Virden and at 
Pana went from bad to worse. The Pana company attempted to 
employ nonunion white labor in an effort to work their mine, but 
Christian County resistance was so great that the company quit the 
effort. The same company, and possibly some agents of the 
Chicago-Virden Company as well, then tried to recruit Chinese labor 
in California. The results were fruitless. Finally, in August, both 
companies resolved to import black labor from Alabama. By 
promising conditions which might have astounded the white strikers 
in Pana and Virden, agents soon rounded up a trainload of black 
miners from the Birmingham region of that state. 

All along the route through southern Illinois, the strike 
organizers of the United Mine Workers succeeded in boarding the 
northbound train, and in warning the imported strikebreakers that 
their lives might be in peril further north. Indeed, some shots may 
have been fired along the way, for the guards riding shotgun were 
forced to compel their passengers to lower the blinds and not to 
show their faces under any circumstance. Despite all attempts of the 
union, and even despite the warnings of Governor Tanner, who 
issued a statement on behalf of the union, the Pana Company 
managed to sneak its train into Pana and to house their 
strikebreakers behind a stockade near the struck mines. 

The Chicago-Virden Company quickly followed suit, erecting a 
stockade which, in aging photographs, tends to resemble something 
Jim Bridger might have thrown up near the North Platte or on the 
wide Missouri. The company went one step further, hiring fifty 
professional gunfighters from Chicago and St. Louis. Fitted out with 
shiny new Winchester rifles, these men were stationed about the 
mine and even on the tipple in order to protect the train which was 
about to arrive. 

Of course, all of these preparations were in the way of a signal to 


the Striking miners and their supporters in Macoupin County. Led by 
the ubiquitous General Bradley, hundreds of miners from Gillespie, 
Benid, Staunton, and particularly Mt. Olive poured into the Virden 
area. The train puffed into sight at the appointed hour, but the 
engineer, blessed with more wisdom than valor, puffed right out 
again in the direction of Springfield. All of those men, vicious in 
their righteous indignation and armed with weapons ranging from 
pitchforks to shotguns, seemed too much of an obstacle. 

Still the Chicago-Virden Company persisted despite the efforts of 
various local authorities north of Virden who attempted to dissuade 
the company from its goal. Sixty blacks were taken off the train at 
Tower Hill, fourteen others at Minonk, and the train was even 
shunted onto a sidetrack at Galesburg in order to thwart the attempt 
to break the strike. 

Finally, on October 13, the Chicago-Virden Company made its 
final assault upon the besieged stockade. The train rolled southward 
and finally into Virden, where it was halted next to the fort. Both 
the hired guards and the strikers opened fire at once and the scene 
became, according to one observer, reminiscent of the fighting at San 
Juan Hill some months earlier. When the engineer once again opened 
his throttle and backed up in the direction of Springfield, and when 
the smoke had cleared, it could be recorded that the human sacrifice 
had been significant. Seven miners were killed and between thirty 
and forty were wounded. Of the guards, five were killed and four 
wounded. No injuries were incurred among the blacks. 

Governor Tanner quickly sent the militia into the area, with 
orders to prevent violence and to thwart any further attempts to 
bring in strikebreakers. What happened to the blacks? Most stayed in 
Illinois, either settling in Springfield or moving up to Chicago. As far 
as the miners were concerned, their victory was both sweet and 
tragic. They now had the martyrs any movement had to have, and 
one month later in Virden, the company finally agreed to pay the 
higher wage scale. It was a victory for militant unionism, although 
won at a high cost. A short time later, a visitor to these same Illinois 
mine fields affected by the strike was to note an absence of pet dogs 
and cats. The truth was that there were none. They had all been 
eaten. ^ 

The aftermath of what came to be known as the "Virden 
Massacre" was an explosion of fact into myth. The murdered "boys 
of Virden," as Mother Jones called them, seemed to grow in number 
with each decade. Yet their martyrdom seemed undeniable to most 
Macoupin County miners. A month after the fight at Virden, a State 
Militia captain described the striking miners at Virden as mostly 
"Slavonic" who were impossible to "educate and elevate." He was 
partially right in the sense that some of the miners were Slavic in 



Mother Jones, with Knights of Labor leader Terence Powderly. 

descent, but the nationalities of four of the dead who came from Mt. 
Olive is a story unto itself. Two had pioneer backgrounds or were 
British (Long and Smith), and two were Germans (Gitterle and 
Kaemerer). For some inexplicable reason, all four were denied burial 
in the town's established cemeteries, so their comrades were forced 
to buy an acre of land in which they might be interred. Some twenty 
years later, Mary Harris "Mother" Jones made a dedicatory speech 
for this Union Cemetery, and in it she stated, "I hope it will be my 
consolation when I pass away to feel I sleep under the clay with 
those brave boys." Her wishes were eventually fulfilled, and today 
she rests in Mt. Olive with the "boys of Virden."^ 

Perhaps it was as Mrs. Jones had intimated in her 1923 speech at 
Mt. Olive: that the martyrdom of the Virden boys had created such a 
militancy in what was now called District 12 of the United Mine 
Workers that it would draw special attention from mine operators. 
Or perhaps it was that the better working conditions in District 12 
simply developed because big capital found it to be a profitable area 
in which to mine coal. At any rate, the growth in coal production 
and the numbers of mine sinkings after 1898 in both Macoupin and 
Montgomery Counties were quite substantial. The most significant of 
these were those mines developed by the Superior Coal Company, a 


subsidiary of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad. Four major 
tipples were constructed at Eagerville, Sawyerville, Mt. Clare, and at 
Wilsonville. The last, Superior's No. 4, was partially a response of the 
World War I demand for fuel. Hence the reason for naming the town 
Wilsonville, Of the four mining villages, this last was the source of the 
most labor trouble for the Superior Company. It was also a little 
village which, as voting statistics show, harbored more political 
radicals than the larger towns in the county. ^ 

That big capital had discovered the possibilities for enormous 
profits in coal in southern and central Illinois is shown by the fact 
that Joseph Leiter and John "Bet-a-Million" Gates could be 
numbered among the new investors. Leiter, a Chicagoan and typical 
of the nouveau riche of his time, was famous not only for his wealth 
but also for his wife, a woman whose tongue sometimes belied her 
social status. Malapropisms abounded in her vocabulary. She once 
told reporters that she planned to attend a fancy masquerade ball 
dressed in the "garbage of a nun." Entrepreneurs or not, such 
individuals as Gates and Leiter played for high stakes, and their 
dealings were sometimes hidden behind such interlocking 
directorates that union leaders were sometimes forced to bargain in 
the chilly confines of some LaSalle Street bank or in the Union Trust 
Bank at Pittsburgh. One small Gillespie mine, "The Little Dog," was 
once owned by the Lehmann Corporation, whose most famous 
public outcropping was Herbert Lehmann, a New Dealer and 
one-time governor of New York. Lehmann's liberal viewpoints did 
not serve to drastically alter or improve the conditions of men who 
worked that mine."" ° 

So rapid was the economic growth in both Macoupin and 
Montgomery counties after 1900 that the McKinley enterprises, 
which were based in the east, built a so-called "interurban railroad" 
from Danville to Champaign and thence to St. Louis. The track for 
what was jokingly called "the Toonerville trolley" ran straight down 
the main street of Gillespie which, by the mid-twenties, had become 
the largest town in the county. Over in Montgomery County, small 
settlements were absorbed by bigger towns. The town of Witt, for 
instance, grew so rapidly after 1900 that it overran the nearby 
English settlement of Paisley. 

All of the mining towns in the two counties grew rapidly, and all 
seemed to develop characteristics derived from the ethnic elements 
which predominated within them. Of course, some claims fell into 
the realm of myth, but it was argued that the best bootleg beer after 
1925 came from Mt. Olive. The best wine and pasta, it was said, 
came from Benld. Because scores of English families settled in Witt, 
it was said that the best home cooked candies came from that town. 
The best scones and tea cakes were to be had in Gillespie. Seemingly 


unrelated to anything in the way of ethnicity was the claim that the 
best baseball players came from the Nokomis area."" ^ 

It was into this milieu of coal and ethnic expansion that, on some 
day between April 4 and June 25, 1908, John Llewellyn Lewis 
stepped. This was the same year in which John Mitchell, the 
declining hero of the United Mine Workers Union, was to give his last 
National Union report. Why did Lewis come to Montgomery 
County? According to Dubovsky and Van Tine, Lewis's latest 
biographers, he emigrated from Iowa to Panama, Illinois, partially 
because of the militant unionism which pervaded the atmosphere of 
Montgomery and Macoupin counties. Saul Alinsky, in an adulative 
biography written some years earlier, makes the same claim.'' ^ 

Lewis's brothers as well as his father also moved to Panama, and 
soon the family seemed to have seized control of the town. John was 
elected president of the U.M.W. local, Thomas became the police 
magistrate (some years later, he would be both the local union 
president and the manager of Shoal Creek No. 1), Dennie became 
financial secretary of the Panama local, and three others were simply 
labor union activists."" ^ 

In the autumn of 1909, almost all of the male population of the 
northern Illinois town of Cherry was wiped out in a terrible mine 
disaster. Through the efforts of John Walker, then the leader of 
District 12 (which included Illinois), John L. Lewis was given the 
special task of lobbying for more stringent mine safety laws in 
Springfield. In a sense, he never went back to Panama. Mine safety 
laws were radically improved, probably due less to Lewis' efforts 
than to the public hue and outcry over the Cherry disaster. Whatever 
the reasons, the miners of District 12 took the position that by being 
militant, by not backing down an inch, they could annually improve 
their financial and working conditions. Lewis rode the tide, and by 
1919, he had put himself into a position which brought him the 
acting presidency of the national union. ^ ^ 

Through the decade of the 1920's, the major problem for union 
coal miners in northern fields was the tremendous growth in the 
production of nonunion coal in Kentucky and Appalachia. With such 
cheap coal as a weapon, northern producers sought to reduce gains 
made previously among unionized miners by attempting to lower 
wages in the northern mines. Although Lewis argued the principle of 
"not one step backward," the reality of nonunion coal production 
was something else. In 1928, just prior to the onset of the Great 
Depression, affairs had reached such a sorry state among mines 
operating under United Mine Workers contracts that Lewis sent out a 
call of almost appalling desperation. Every district for itself, he told 
his workers: each was free to make its own contract. 

There had been strikes during the 1920's in Illinois, but in 


general, conditions had been fairly good. Irving Bernstein, in his 
History of the American Wori<er, 1920-1933, writes that local papers 
in southern Illinois, and in Franklin and Williamson counties in 
particular, had been filled with advertisements for radios, coats, and 
even books. Whatever strikes had occurred (and in District 12, there 
had never been any hesitancy about calling them) had been relatively 
painless. Once in a while. District 12 miners had "wildcatted" strikes 
over such simple issues that it appeared as if they really wanted to 
have a day off. But 1928 was something else indeed, and in the end, 
even District 12 was forced into a contract which lowered daily 
wages from $7.50 to $6.10 a day. 

The touchiness of miners in District 12 did have tangible effects, 
however. The pay reduction there was considerably less than in other 
mining areas of the nation. Still, to the 50,000 miners in District 12, 
Lewis's willingness to submit to reductions seemed tantamount to 
abject surrender, and this was particularly true with respect to those 
who knew him best— the miners of Macoupin County. The same could 
not be said for miners in Montgomery County, however, for their 
situation was now becoming shaded by other changes. The mines of 
Witt had fallen into long closings, and those of Coalton and Nokomis 
apparently had a limited future. 

Among the Macoupin County miners, it was not uncommon to 
hear Lewis now being referred to as a "crook," and there were 
rumors that he lived in almost baronial splendor. The last was not 
entirely true, but miners who took their families to Springfield on 
the electric railroad almost always made a pilgrimage by the Lewis 
home, a large sturdy structure which was certainly beyond anything 
which they might ever own. Such mutterings were increased when 
Lewis, as the President of the United Mine Workers, got into a deadly 
quarrel with the president of District 12, Frank Farrington. The 
latter had dared to challenge Lewis's authority and his power as well, 
the result being that Lewis unloaded on his enemy with such deadly 
precision that no one could err in naming him the biggest boy in the 

While the quarrel between Farrington and Lewis was at its height, 
the former was persuaded to take a trip to Europe. Within days after 
the departure of the ship, Lewis released his most deadly missile. It 
was the revelation that Farrington, while president of District 12, had 
also signed on with the Peabody Coal Company as its "public 
relations expert" at an annual salary of $25,000. Peabody was a dirty 
name to many Illinois miners, and Farrington's deception was 
incredible in view of the fact that District 12 miners had just seen 
their wages lowered in the contract of 1928.^ ^ 

When, in 1928, Lewis told his districts to pull in their wagons 
and to defend themselves, it was only a hint of the misery to come. 



John L. Lewis, about 1940. 


In the following year, with the onset of the Great Depression, coal 
fields in general, with the exception of those in central Illinois, 
became remnants of what they had been. The economic malaise 
quickly metastasized into a broad cancer. In Little Egypt, Sesser's 
three mines were closed, and so were Benton's four. Johnson City 
soon had eight abandoned mines. Within ten years, in the three 
counties of Franklin, Williamson, and Saline, there would be a total 
of 109 abandoned mines. 

The growth of nonunion coal had a certain effect on mines 
around Witt and Hillsboro in Montgomery County, and this, plus the 
ordinary militancy of miners in Macoupin County, heightened the 
unrest of miners in those two counties over the seeming lack of 
leadership in the United Mine Workers itself. After all, as has been 
stressed before, if Lewis was known at all by the rank and file of his 
union, it would be by the workers in Macoupin and Montgomery 
Counties. While miners had taken wage decreases in both 1928 and 
1929, Lewis's salary had more than doubled. The president now 
owned a prosperous bank, he traded successfully in the market, and 
it was said of him that he was making more money than smaller 
operators. Miners in Macoupin County especially would have agreed 
with Lewis's most recent biographers that, by 1929 and 1930, he had 
become "very much a man of the American 1920's."'' ^ 

By March, 1930, with the movement centering in Macoupin, 
Montgomery, and Christian counties. District 12 was in revolt against 
Lewis. An attempt was made to run the venerable John Walker 
against Lewis, but this was quickly nipped in the bud when Lewis 
preemptively ruled Walker constitutionally ineligible. Lewis' 
opposition was a mixed bag of dedicated unionists and radicals. One 
should not discount the latter, especially in Macoupin County. In the 
election of 1920, for instance, there was no Communist Party listed 
on Illinois ballots, but the Socialist and Socialist-Labor candidates 
won 1,291 votes in that county. Compared to a non-coal county 
such as Adams, the difference was remarkable. Larger in population 
than Macoupin, Adams County gave 404 votes to both of the radical 

Four years later, in 1924, with the Progressive Party, 
Socialist-Labor Party, and Workers' Party (Communist) candidates 
on the ballots, Macoupin County tallied 6,959 votes for the first, 
thirty-two for the second, and seventy-seven for the last. Once again, 
this far exceeded the Adams County votes for the candidates of 
those three parties. 

The Communist vote in Macoupin went up by four in 1928, but 
in 1932 the results were more interesting. Norman Thomas received 
1,567 votes, the Socialist-Labor candidate won fifty-one votes, and 
the Communist candidate received 134 votes. The Lemke-O'Brien 


Union Party ticket was to affect the 1936 election, drawing 950 
votes in Macoupin County, but a study of the Socialist Party vote in 
that election is revealing. There was no Communist candidate, and 
one may assume that votes ordinarily going in that direction would 
be cast for the venerable Norman Thomas. Thomas did well in three 
areas in Macoupin: in Benid, in Gillespie, where he received his 
largest support, and in one of the Dorchester precincts. Dorchester 
itself is a little farming village, but it does have one precinct which 
covers the Wilsonville area, where Superior Mine No. 4 is located. 
There Thomas got forty votes which, by calculation, amounts to 
almost three times the number which the candidate received in the 
five precincts of Carlinville, the county seat.^ '^ 

All of these factors— the Lewis-Farrington controversy; the basic 
radicalism of Macoupin miners as opposed to Lewis, the "man of 
the twenties;" the worsening conditions of the miners— would have 
profound effects upon the dramatic episodes which were to occur in 
1932. In that year, the four-year contract between District 12 miners 
and the operators was drawing to an end. By March 31, almost all of 
the District 12 workers had left the pits due to the failure to bring 
negotiations to a close. Finally, on July 9, a new contract was 
announced, and although many miners may have resigned to losing 
ground in terms of annual income, the extent to which they were 
expected to give way was shocking. The basic daily wage scale on the 
previous contract was $6.10; the new contract was to lower this to 
$5.00. When the contract was submitted to miners for their approval, 
they angrily turned it down by a majority of more than two to one. 

Within days a second proposal, which called for essentially the 
same agreement, was again submitted to the miners. Lewis, by now 
the international president of the U.M.W.A., ranged through the state, 
although mostly in the fairly safe districts. He pleaded for acceptance 
of the contract. The unfortunate and still highly respected District 
12 president, John H. Walker, was given the onerous task of selling 
the agreement to the more militant miners. His appearance in 
Gillespie was disastrous, and it nearly erupted into personal violence 
against himself. 

The meeting in that town was scheduled at an unused movie 
theater. Hours before the appointed time, miners began to come into 
town from outlying villages such as Eagerville, Mt. Clare, Sawyerville, 
and Wilsonville. The more outspoken opponents to the new contract 
occupied the front seats in the old building, and as Walker began his 
attempt to sell the contract to the miners, one by one they leaped to 
their feet. They would not go gently into that good night as lackeys 
or minions who would sell their right to a fair living. As the house 
rocked with applause from the angry audience, the poorly 
constructed old movie house almost seemed to self destruct. Chunks 


of plaster fell from the ceiling upon those seated below; not small 
pieces drifting through unmoving wisps of pipe smoke, but yardwide 
flat pieces which fell noisily on both people and seats below. Walker, 
veteran to mine militancy that he was, soon cut short his effort and 
quickly left townJ ^ 

The vote upon the second contract took place on August 6. 
The early pronouncements of Lewis' immediate subordinates 
indicated that, despite all evidence to the contrary, the referendum 
had carried in favor of the contract. Before any affirmation of the 
tally sheets could be made, the news suddenly broke that all of the 
sheets had been stolen. Evidence that the thieves had been high 
officers in District 12 was open and clear— a crime compounded by 
Lewis himself a few days later when he peremptorily announced 
that, because the sheets had disappeared, he was ordering miners to 
accept the terms of the new contract. 

It was soon obvious that opposition to the skullduggery of the 
leadership of District 12 was strongest in Macoupin County. There, 
in Benid, on August 14, rank and file miners held a meeting to 
determine the action to be taken against mines elsewhere which were 
in obeisance to Lewis's order. There was particular bitterness against 
Christian County miners who were answering the call of the Peabody 
Coal Company to resume work. The BenId decision was that miners 
should procede to the Taylorville area and that they should picket 
working mines in that county. By August 19 there were some 1,500 
miners, most of them from Macoupin County, enroute to Taylorville. 
Their efforts were quickly successful; the Christian County miners 
refused to cross picket lines. 

Temporarily successful in this effort, the attention of the 
Macoupin County miners now turned to southern Illinois, where 
miners of Franklin County had returned to work under the terms of 
the new contract. In Little Egypt, conditions were of a much 
different nature. Earlier picket lines had been dispersed by 
questionable tactics on the part of county law authorities. One 
picket had been murdered, and many of the workers in that area 
were anxious to return to work lest their places of employment be 
permanently closed. 

Still, the union leaders in the Gillespie and BenId area made plans 
for a huge picketing demonstration, announcing that no miners 
would be armed, and that the parade of autos into southern Illinois 
was to be well organized and peaceful. Some 10,000 miners left the 
Staunton area, the tunes of the local municipal band ringing in their 

The circumstances of what soon came to be known as the "Battle 
of Mulkeytown" seem clearly to have been a result of collaboration 
between the sheriff of Franklin County, state police who directed 


the caravan into an ambush, and militant Lewis followers among the 
local miners. Hundreds of high school boys, coal miners, and 
businessmen were deputized by the Franklin County sheriff, as well 
as two physicians who were told to treat only Franklin County 
people among the expected casualties. 

When the head of the vast cavalcade reached U.S. Highway 51 
south of DuQuoin, the state police shunted the leading cars eastward 
on State Highway 14. When the leading cars crossed the Little 
Muddy River, a short distance from the village of Mu I key town, the 
sheriff's deputies suddenly appeared ahead. Shots were fired, men 
were beaten, cars were pushed over, and tires were punctured. It was 
hardly a melee, much less a battle. There was no contest, for only 
one side was armed. The great caravan turned around, and headed 
northward. Five of the would-be picketers were casualties; none of 
the sheriff's deputies had been wounded.^ ^ 

With miners in southern Illinois working in the pits at the 
reduced wages, and a crumbling situation in the Peabody mines in 
Christian County, the militant miners now called a convention for 
September 1, 1932. Meeting in Gillespie and in the old Colonial 
Theater, which had shook at the rejection of John H. Walker's 
midsummer plea to accept the new contract, the convention 
recommended the organization of a new union to be called the 
Progressive Miners of America. Its acting president, later to be its 
regular president, was a working miner, Claude Pearcy of Gillespie. 
How odd it would seem to some miners later when they realized that 
Pearcy, a decent and intelligent man, had been born in Lucas, Iowa, 
the birthplace of John L. Lewis, and that only eight years separated 
them in age.^^ 

While it may be true that, as some writers claim, the Progressive 
Miners of America (later the Progressive Mine Workers of America) 
were made up of pure militants. Communists, Musteites, Ku Klux 
Klanners, opportunists, and worse, whatever can be said in this 
respect can be repeated in turn for their opponents, the United Mine 
Workers. The 1930's, at least the years following the establishment 
of a second mine union, were filled with violence wherever and 
whenever the two unions came into conflict over control. While this 
was not so much true of Montgomery County because its coal mining 
days were temporarily ended, or in Macoupin County, in which 
almost everyone was a Progressive, it was true in southern Illinois and 
in Christian County. The Progressives (called "Proggies" by the 
United Mine Workers) did bargain into a slightly better contract, 
which added both advantages and woes to the new union. Operators, 
such as Peabody in Christian County, managed to obtain state militia 
protection from picketing, and simply refused to consider the more 
costly Progressive contract. In southern Illinois, whenever miners 


were taken with the "Progressive disease," they were often 
summarily fired. 

Men died on both sides. Strikers were shot by national 
guardsmen, fights between scores of men were everyday occurrences 
in 1933 and 1934, and even the members of the Progressive Mine 
Workers Womens' Auxiliary were assaulted in Franklin County. This 
last organization, headed by Agnes Burns Wieck of Belleville, was no 
less militant in it activities than the union itself. 2'' 

A major problem of the Progressives was in obtaining recognition 
by the National Labor Relations Board, over which Lewis exercised 
so much influence. It was a particularly damaging situation, for any 
disputes involving discrimination against miners with Progressive 
affiliations had no hearing. President Pearcy of the Progressives 
attempted to rid the union of its red-tainted officers, in one instance 
firing the editor of the union newspaper, Gerry Allard. Lewis' 
stranglehold on the Department of Labor and his heavy 
contributions to the Democratic Party delayed National Labor 
Relations Board considerations of Progressive claims until 
midsummer of 1937. The recognition of the P.M.W.A. by the Board 
came after President Roosevelt's second inauguration and may have 
had some relationship to the quarrel which was soon to take place 
between the President and Lewis. 

Though the issue of radical militancy had died along with the 
closing coal mines of Montgomery County, it remained a vital factor 
in yearly developments in the 1930's in Macoupin County. In 1937, 
over what seems to have been a slight grievance in Superior Mine No. 
4 in Wilsonville, miners there refused to come topside at the close of 
the day's operations. It was the first so-called sitdown strike to be 
conducted in a coal mine, and it lasted very nearly a week. 22 

And the union itself continued to have troubles. In 1939, two of 
its organizers were suspended on the charges of having proselyted for 
causes and principles adverse to the aims and aspirations of the union 
as a whole. Even at this date, some forty-one years later, it is 
dangerous to state just why the two men were punished. One may 
suspect at some risk that the two individuals were advocating 
principles so far to the left that even union officials could not 
support them. 23 

With virtually all of the old mines of Macoupin and Montgomery 
closed in 1980, one can now summarize the contributions of the two 
counties in terms of radical unionism and workers' militancy. There 
was the violence in the Mt. Olive coal field in the early 1890's and 
the Virden-Pana battle of 1898. John L. Lewis emerged in 
Montgomery County after 1908. He rose to leadership of the United 
Mine Workers and, with his friend Allan Haywood, once of Witt in 
Montgomery County, later organized the Committee of Industrial 


Organization in the 1930's. There was the peculiar "General" 
Bradley of Mt. Olive, and the famous "Mother" Jones who would be 
buried there. The latter not only helped to organize the 
International Workers of the World, the I.W.W. or the "wobblies," 
but she had some kind of a mysterious hand in the workings of the 
Mexican Revolution in 1915. And for Mother Jones' connoisseurs 
(she seems to have been rediscovered of late), there is even a radical 
feminist magazine published today in San Francisco. Called simply 
Mother Jones, its recent Christmas issue carried an artist's illustration 
of Mother Jones in a Santa Claus suit, with the notion that the 
leading article inside was entitled "Happy Hell Raising." Then there 
was the violence of the anti-Lewis movement and the organization of 
the Progressive Mine Workers of America. Forty-eight years after its 
founding, the union still exists, although it would be difficult to 
enumerate its membership. 

Through it all, was there anything in the way of contradiction, 
anything in the way of anomaly? John L. Lewis came to work in 
Panama in 1908. One year earlier, Louis Kenneth Eilers was born in 
Gillespie. The first became a great union leader, the second the 
president of the Eastman-Kodak Company. Allan Haywood 
emigrated from England to Witt in Montgomery County, though his 
stay there was brief. Haywood eventually became a high official in 
the C.I.O. and in the United Automobile Workers of America. Leslie 
Berry Worthington was also born in England. He was brought to Witt 
by his family at about the same time Haywood arrived there from 
what was called the "old country." Worthington, like Eilers, had a 
long career in the business world, eventually becoming the president 
of U.S. Steel. Were they all examples of the way that was in the 
free-wheeling America of seventy years ago? Or were their successes, 
all of them, the results of the electric social climate of the coal fields 
of Macoupin and Montgomery counties?^'* 


Garland's dissection of farm life is found in liis Main-Travelled Roads (1891). Riis 
wrote How the Other Half Lives (1890), a powerful indictment of social disparity in New 
York City. 

•'John Keiser, Building for the Centuries: Illinois, 1865 to 1898 (Urbana: Univ. of 
Illinois Press, 1977), pp. 12-13. Many of the early St. Clair County miners were active in the 
National Progressive Union of Miners and Mine Laborers, an affiliation of the Knights of 
Labor. The original charter for Local Union No. 644, District 6 (Hillsboro, III.) was, for 
many years, displayed on the wall of Room 508, Ridgely Bank Building, Springfield, III. See 
Dallas M. Young, "A History of the Progressive Miners of America, 1932-1940," Diss. 
University of Illinois 1942, p. 9. 

^ The Area News (Gillespie, Illinois) 22 Aug. 1980, section 2, p. 1, and Melvyn 
Dubovsky and Warren Van Tine, John L. Lewis: A Biography (New York: Quadrangle/The 
New York Times Book Club, 1 977), p. 21 . 


My own recollections. As to the innportance of the British in the Annerican labor 
nnovement, consider Sam Gompers, a London-born Jew and the leader of the American 
Federation of Labor for decades; Philip Murray, a Scot and important labor leader in the 
1930s; John Mitchell, American born of a Scottish mother, and early leader of the United 
Mine Workers of America; Allan Haywood, an Englishman and 1930s' leader of the C.I.O.; 
and John Brophy, Lancashire-born coal union leader in the West Virginia fields. 

^ Keiser, Building for the Centuries, pp. 246-47. See also: John Keiser, "The Union 
Miners Cemetery at Mt. Olive, Illinois— A Spirit-Thread of Labor History," Journal of the 
Illinois State Historical Society, 62 (1969), 229-66. Keiser gives a fine portrait of Bradley, 
who was born in England in 1866, brought to Collinsville in 1873 by his family, and later 
settled in Mt. Olive. 

° Victor Hicken, "The Virden and Pana Mine Wars of \d>9?>," Journal of the Illinois 
State Historical Society, 52 (1959), 264-66. The quote by Lloyd is from his book, A Strike 
of Millionaires against Miners (Chicago; n.p., 1890), p. 10. 

Hicken, "The Virden and Pana Mine Wars," pp. 265-78; also Keiser, "The Union 
Miners Cemetery at Mt. Olive, Illinois, pp. 243-50. 


Ibid. p. 251. Dale Fetherling, Mother Jones: The Miners' Angel (Carbondale: 
Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 1974), p. 16. 


^ The Area News, section 2, p. 1. Also, tally sheets from the 1936 election, copy 
forwarded by Philip Brown, Macoupin County Clerk. The 1936 election, the only one close 
to the 1931 depression for which tally sheets are still available in the County Clerk's Office, 
shows forty-seven Socialist and Socialist- Labor votes for Wilsonville. Carlinville, the county 
seat, had only fourteen in the same categories. There was no Communist presidential 
candidate listed for Illinois in 1936. 

'^McAlister Coleman, Men and Coal (New York: Arno and The New York Times, 
1969), p. 76. In so far as working conditions in the coal mines were concerned, it should be 
remembered that the official figure for deaths from pit accidents since 1900 is 102,968. 
Some 3,242 miners died in 1907 alone. These figures do not include deaths from slow but 
relentness black lung disease which, in 1975, was accounting for between 4,000 and 5,000 
deaths among old miners. See the Chicago Tribune, 12 Mar. 1980, p. 10. 

Nokomis produced two baseball Hall of Famers: Charles "Red" Rushing of the 
Yankees, and Jim Bottomley of the Cardinals. Rushing lost part of a foot while working as a 
miner but it did not hinder him from winning 273 games from 1924 to 1947. 
1 n 

Dubovsky and Van Tine, p. 20. Saul Alinsky, John L. Lewis: An Unauthorized 

Biography (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1949), p. 21. Alinsky's glosses over almost 

everything in Lewis's life which might have been ethically questionable. 

1 "^ 
"^ Dubovsky and Van Tine, pp. 56-57. 

Irving Bernstein, A History of the American Worker, J 920-1 933: The Lean Years 
(Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1960), pp. 362-74. 

Ibid., pp. 360-69, and Coleman, p. 138. I also draw upon my own memory for some 
of the impressions Macoupin County miners had of John L. Lewis. 

1 fi 

Bernstein, pp. 362-65; Coleman, pp. 142-43. As for Lewis's 1920's financial dealings, 

see Dubovsky and Van Tine, p. 150. 

Most of these figures come from the Illinois Blue Book, an annual publication of the 
State of Illinois concerning the state. Phil Brown, County Clerk, Macoupin County gave me 
a copy of the 1936 vote tallies. It is interesting to note that Jennie Lee, the wife of British 
Labor Socialist Aneurin Bevan, made several visits to Gillespie during the 1930's. Not only 
was it the Scots settlement which drew her there, but the radical coloration of the mining 
population as well. 

It might be noted here that in 1976 there were seventy-four Macoupin County votes for 


the Communist candidate, five for the Socialist-Labor, and seven for the Socialist. Adams 
County, by comparison, tallied twenty-five Communist, eight Socialist- Labor, and twelve 
Socialist votes. 

1 S 

° Bernstein, pp. 370-77. I was present in the old Colonial Theater when Walker spoke. 

1 Q 

The events of summer, 1932, are described in Dallas Young's Ph.D. dissertation, pp. 
49-95; Bernstein, pp. 370-77; Dubovsky and Van Tine, pp. 163-77; and Coleman, pp. 

•^" Young, p. 1 13. I saw Mr. Pearcy often. I also attended school with his children. 


Ibid., p. 117. Through the summers of 1932 and 1933 there were countless rallies and 

picnics throughout the area in support of the Progressive cause. The "women's auxilliary" 

was always present. I have in my memorabilia a clipping which describes a rally on the farm 

of Bill Hicken at Witt. The article ends: "Every one was tired and weary but well pleased at 

having been present to take part in such an enjoyable outing." 

^^ "Sit Down Strike Continues," St. Louis Star-Times, 25 May 1937, p. 1. 


'^'^ Young, p. 184, gives no hint as to why the two men were suspended. I have my own 
opinions, having been acquainted with one of them. Dubovsky and Van Tine, p. 1 70, state 
that the Progressives were an admixture of Communists and Musteites, Ku Klux Klanners, 
opportunists, and pie-card artists. I have no idea what a pie-card artist is, but the term 
Musteite was applied to any radical who espoused the ideas taught at the Brookwood Labor 
College in New York state. 


'' My parents knew the Haywood family well. I also knew the families of Leslie 

Worthington and Louis Eilers. 


An outstanding local history collection was recently added to the 
expanding resources of Western Illinois University Library. Entitled 
the Gordon-Vestal Collection, it was acquired from Donald Gordon 
of Hamilton, Illinois, approximately a year ago. Originally gathered 
by his father, John A. Gordon, and his sister. Pearl Gordon Vestal, it 
contains a vast assortment of scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, 
typescripts, photographs, and notes related to Hancock County. A 
lengthy finding aid has been prepared by the Archives and Special 
Collections unit of the library, and it includes the following subjects, 
among others: marriages, obituaries, organizations, towns, the 
Gordon family, Hamilton business and cultural activities, cemeteries, 
court houses, trails, doctors, the Mississippi River, railroads, the Civil 
War, the Black Hawk War, newspapers, and notable figures. 

The Gordon-Vestal Collection is part of the Center for Hancock 
County History, which includes collections devoted to such figures as 
John Hay and Thomas Gregg, as well as the papers of Ida Blum, Mary 
Siegfried, and other local historians. Undoubtedly, the Center will 
prove invaluable for anyone interested in researching Hancock 
County history. 

University Library at WIU was also the recipient of various gifts 
over the past six months. One of the most interesting is a large mural 
painted by Harold Kee Welch of Smithfield, which was given to the 
Library through the generosity of the First National Bank of 
Springfield. Each of the several panels is ten by sixteen feet, and 
together they portray the history of the state in the manner of the 
great Mexican muralists of the earlier twentieth century. Other gifts 
include items for the Center for Regional Authors: books by 
Pittsfield novelist Margery Eatock; manuscripts, letters, tapes, and 
newspaper clippings by and about Galesburg author Martin Litvin, 
and chapbooks by Springfield poets Marie and Marguerite Rickert. 
Of significance to those interested in the wildlife of western Illinois is 
the Elton Fawks Collection, which includes extensive observation 
notes about eagles and hawks that were made over many years. 

For the Record, the newsletter of the Illinois State Archives, has 
printed its latest list of acquisitions to the Illinois Regional Archives 



System. It notes that Western Illinois University has been the 
recipient of a number of acquisitions from Calhoun and Rock Island 
counties, including auditors' sales books, surveyors' records, probate 
records, will records, and other worthwhile items. 

One of the more successful efforts at combining the arts and 
history occurred this summer at Argyle State Park, near Colchester. 
With grant money provided for the project, Jared Brown of Western's 
Theatre Department and his wife, Judy, wrote and produced a play 
entitled "The Peddlar." The historical advisor for the project was Dr. 
Victor Hicken of Western's History Department. 

The short play opened with music from the settlement period of 
Illinois and proceeded into a story of hardship and struggle on the 
frontier. Performed in front of the park's "log cabin," the play drew 
an increasing number of viewers through each of its three 
performances. All in all, perhaps over 1200 people saw the show. 
There is now some effort to make this sort of project an annual affair 
at the park, but of course, any success along this line would depend 
upon acquiring more grant money. 

Local history groups are active all over western Illinois. The 
Heritage Room of the Schuyler County Jail Museum received twelve 
new microfilms on Brown County, dating from January, 1881 to 
June, 1908. The museum also received items of interest from the 
Paul G. Brines Drug Store of Rushville. 

The Western Illinois University Museum was able to acquire old 
style dental equipment and furniture from Dr. C. D. Eshleman of 
Macomb. Dr. Eshleman came to that town approximately sixty years 
ago, and many of his donations were from that period. 

The Museum Newsletter, a sprightly publication, recently carried 
a piece on area museums and their struggle to survive. The Henderson 
County Museum, located in Raritan Township, includes displays of 
household furniture, farm implements, blacksmith's bellows, wood 
whittlings, and a rug made from the skin of a 1,700 pound Alaskan 
brown bear. 

Warren County's museum, also discussed in the newsletter, is 
located in the old high school building at Roseville. Much work by 
local citizens was put into this place, and it now contains old 
machinery, plows, books and Bibles, uniforms from the Civil and 
Spanish-American Wars, antique office furniture, and a living room 
from the early 1900's. 

The Kibbe Museum, located at Carthage, was given to the city by 
the late Dr. Alice Kibbe, who was once on the faculty of Carthage 
College. The house, built in 1869, contains oil canvases by George 
Upp of Hancock County, Lincoln artifacts, medical and dental 
instruments, stuffed birds, geodes, pianos, and other items. 

Two important reprints are now available. The Portrait and 


Biography Album of Warren County, Illinois, originally issued in 
1886, is now for sale at the Carlberg Printing Company in Roseville 
and at the Carwile Paint Store in Monmouth. The 1885 History of 
McDonough County, which contains some 1,100 biographical 
sketches of early settlers in the county, is now available from Glen 
Sticklen, 416 S. Campbell, Macomb, Illinois 61455. 

A brother of Glen Sticklen, Mr. Harry Sticklen of Macomb, is 
responsible for another of the frequent revelations about local 
history to which this writer is subjected. In all truth, if someone had 
asked me to identify one Amer Mills Stocking a month or so ago, I 
could not have done so. Actually, Amer Mills Stocking was a writer 
of sorts, and in 1926, he produced a book of some historical interest 
entitled The Saukie Indians and Their Great Chiefs Black Hawk and 
Keokuk. The volume was published by the Vaile Company of Rock 
Island, and indeed, it is a strange affair. Replete with photographs, 
the text is written in a kind of verse (somewhere in that broad field 
between Longfellow and Edgar A. Guest). Pictures and poetry go 
along for some 266 pages and are followed by notes to the text. 
Stocking is also listed on the title page under the name 
"Samp-we-te-oh," or "He who deals fairly." Even more oddly, the 
books contain an introduction by Alice French, a Davenport novelist 
who obtained a certain fame by writing under the pen name of 
Octave Thanet. 

Genealogical societies are among the most active organizations in 
preserving the past. The Genealogical Society of McDonough County 
recently published "Will Book Abstracts, 1834 to 1857, McDonough 
County." I have looked at the publication and find it quite 
interesting. The same group recently heard a talk by Dean Albaugh, a 
graduate student at Western Illinois University. Albaugh discussed his 
masters thesis, "Minor League Baseball in Macomb During 1908 and 
1910." The Macomb team was known as the "Potters" (we cannot 
resist asking whether they had a field), and its very first game was 
with the visiting Hannibal nine. 

I have long been interested in the history of baseball in western 
Illinois. For this reason I was fascinated with the fact that the old 
time pitcher, Grover Cleveland Alexander, hurled against the 
Macomb team during its short stint in the lesser leagues. Alexander, 
as any baseball trivia expert should know, went on to a long career in 
the National League and to a final recognition of greatness with his 
installation in the Cooperstown, N.Y., Baseball Hall of Fame. 
Alexander's greatest moment came in the 1926 World Series when he 
struck out Yankee Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded. 

The New York Times, May 4, 1980, devoted part of its Sunday 
travel section to the attractions of Hannibal, Missouri. The piece was 
written by Tom Weil, a Missouri novelist, and it covered the majesty 


of Cardiff Hill, the lure of the wooden fence ("Does a boy get to 
whitewash a fence every day?" Tom Sawyer asked), and the Twain 
home. Weil included an interview with the last surviving Hannibal 
resident to have met Twain. The year was 1902, the occasion of the 
novelist's last visit to the town. Now 87 years of age, Helen Knighton 
still lives within sight of Rockcliffe, where she grew up so many years 

I have in hand The Weekend Book: A Guide to Small Adventures 
in Illinois, printed and distributed by the Illinois Department of 
Commerce and Community Affairs. It is a listing of places and events 
which one might visit throughout the year in Illinois. In western 
Illinois, the Hotel Nauvoo and the Hillsboro Hotel are commended as 
inns, and particular attention is given to the Gem City Vineland 
Company, a winery at Nauvoo. Special events are listed for each 
month of the year— for example, the Jordbruksdagarna at Bishop 
Hill, the Spoon River Festival, and the Knox County Festival, all of 
which occur in October. It is a useful book, and the Department of 
Commerce and Community Affairs must be praised for doing such a 
marvelous job of printing and distribution. 

Victor Hicken 

Western Illinois University 


New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1979. Pp. xvii, 270. $14.95. 

Paul Findley attacks two "myths" in this study of Lincoln's sole 
excursion into national government before his election to the 
Presidency in 1860: that Lincoln was a failure as a Congressman; and 
that he committed "political suicide" by opposing the Mexican War. 
Findley's purpose is "to set the record straight and promote a better 
understanding of Lincoln the Congressman." 

Although it is hardly true that, as the dust-jacket proclaims, 
Lincoln's single term in Congress "has been buried in undeserved 
oblivion," it is clear that his service in the Thirtieth Congress has not 
been treated in the kind of depth that has characterized virtually 
every other aspect of Lincoln's life. Lincoln's two years in the House 
of Representatives, as Findley points out, did nonetheless provide an 
important episode in his developing career, contributing valuable 
experience and national exposure to his political ambition. The 
years, he suggests, were significant not so much for what Lincoln did 
for Congress as for what the Congressional experience did for 
Lincoln. Findley makes passing reference to Donald Riddle's work 
on Lincoln's term in Congress but finds some of its conclusions 
unconvincing (in fact, Riddle is given rather short-shrift). He also 
acknowledges Gabor Boritt's article on Lincoln's opposition to the 
Mexican War (1974) as providing important inspiration to his own 
work (Findley might have found Mark Neeley's incisive analysis of 
Lincoln's opposition to the war even more valuable). 

There is little that is new in Findley's study. Its value lies rather 
in the unique qualifications which he brings to his task. Findley, a 
journalist by profession and a life-long resident of western Illinois, is 
himself a member of the House of Representatives. For the past 
nineteen years he has represented the Illinois district that includes 
Sangamon County, the heart of Lincoln's own district in the late 
eighteen-forties. Findley's own experience as a Congressman adds 
flavor and insight to his discussion of Lincoln's legislative role. 
Indeed, one of the most interesting chapters describes Lincoln's 



routine as a Congressman, in which analogies are drawn between the 
Congress of Lincoln's time and that of today. 

Findley's primary concern is with the two issues that not only 
disturbed Lincoln but also consumed much of the Congress' time 
between 1847 and 1849: slavery and the Mexican War. He insists 
that Lincoln's Congressional term was the turning point in his 
attitude toward slavery even though Lincoln, in Findley's words, was 
"remarkably silent" on the issue. More important than his exposure 
to the slavery issue in Congress was his daily confrontation with 
slavery in the national capital, for until his sojourn in Washington 
Lincoln had never lived with slavery. Findley's view of the Mexican 
War follows conventional lines. He is careful to distinguish between 
Lincoln's opposition to the manner in which America became 
involved in the war and his support of the conflict once it had begun. 
Findley concludes that on this issue Lincoln was both a man of 
"deep moral convictions" and an "adept political practioner." 
Although an effort is made to strengthen the former 
characterization, the author's own evidence seems to point to the 
latter. Lincoln after all did not voice his opposition to the war until 
it was over and then simply reiterated the arguments that had been 
employed by Whig politicians since 1846. Lincoln apparently was 
most interested in demonstrating that his Whig credentials were 
sound. His attack on Polk reflected his party's position on the use 
(and misuse) of Presidential power and was couched in language 
reminiscent of Lincoln's Lyceum speech ten years before. The 
ultimate irony is that Lincoln himself, in the so-called "Presidential 
War" of the spring of 1861, followed the same course for which he 
attacked Polk in 1848. After reading this account, one cannot but 
agree with Ben Perley Poore's remark that Lincoln "made no mark as 
a legislator." 

Findley does better in his effort to dispel the second myth, the 
oft-repeated story that Lincoln's opposition to the Mexican War 
terminated his political career. The author traces the myth to 
Herndon but credits Albert Beveridge with giving it its greatest boost 
(because of Beveridge's own " 'manifest destiny' spirit"). Findley 
believes that Lincoln would have been returned to Congress had he 
been a candidate, primarily, one supposes, because he would have 
ridden into office on Zachary Taylor's coattails. Still, Findley 
attributes the victory of Democrat Thomas L. Harris over his Whig 
opponent to the "war spirit" in the district. Could not this same 
"war spirit" have worked against Lincoln? 

While the author's focus is on Lincoln's Congressional years, his 
book covers much more. Lincoln's early life and career are 
summarized, and his growing involvement in the politics of the 
slavery question in the eighteen-fifties is treated. A final chapter is 


devoted to the Presidential years. Special mention should be made of 
the copious and superb illustrations, many of which have never been 
published before. They constitute one of the book's special 
strengths. Anyone interested in Lincoln's political career will surely 
find this volume delightful reading. 

Robert W. Johannsen 

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 

QUARTER-CENTURY. By William Urban, with Mary Crowe, 
Charles Speel and Samuel Thompson. Monmouth, III.: Monmouth 
College, 1979. Pp. v, 236. No price given. 

Monmouth College is in the thirteenth decade of service to 
education in Illinois. After its establishment in 1853, the school grew 
rapidly both in size and influence until, by the 1880's, it had become 
the largest college in Illinois. From 1890 on, however, the impact of 
the founding of state colleges at Normal, Urbana, Charleston, 
DeKalb, and Macomb was a substantial one. This was particularly 
true in the case of Western Illinois State Normal, which began to 
enroll students shortly after the turn of the century. Yet, from that 
time to this, Monmouth College has survived, sometimes through 
sheer will and purpose, and sometimes through the most tenuous 
circumstances— but it has survived. Professor Urban, along with 
colleagues Crowe, Speel, and Thompson, has chronicled some of the 
more difficult times in a sturdy version of the institution's 125-year 

College histories, especially when dealing with individuals still 
alive, tend to tread lightly. The writing of some volumes is often such 
that lines carry subtle and varied meanings. One level of meaning 
may be for the general public, and a second may apply to those who 
are really well acquainted with the history of the school. Moreover, 
college history is not the easiest kind of writing to do, and since that 
is the case, one occasionally stumbles across convoluted sentences 
which imply meanings that are not intended. There is a real beauty 
of this kind in Professor Urban's introduction to the book, where he 
describes the physical attributes of a young colleague and their 
obvious appeal to student audiences: "There was a time when all 
Miss Bartlett had to do to get a big class," says Urban, "was to sit on 
a desk and cross her legs . . ." (p. ii). Then he adds: "but later the 
students who wanted to see more of her came for the lively lectures 
and the professional quality slides." 

This is not a serious gaffe, and in fact, everyone who writes 
extensively makes an error of this type once in a while. Of greater 


significance is the variation in writing quality that characterizes the 
book. There are times when the author's prose is rich and of high 
quality, and other moments when it becomes quite pedestrian. 

The strength of the book lies elsewhere, in the successful attempt 
to approach Monmouth College's more recent years with a degree of 
frankness. College presidents are very much like the little girl who 
had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. When they are 
good, they are very very good; but when they are bad, they are 
horrid. Monmouth College apparently has run the gamut of these 
extremes, which is not an unusual course for any institution to 
follow. This reviewer was quite interested in the book's treatment of 
the administration of President Duncan Wimpress, whose presidency 
began in 1964. Wimpress was a builder and, in that, he was typical of 
college presidents of his era. He made a serious attempt to attract 
students from the East and was successful to the degree that 
enrollment went from 977 to 1338. Unfortunately, the increase also 
brought problems. Many of the eastern students were unhappy and 
longed for the streets of Darien, or Newark, or New York. They 
abhored the cow town aspects of Monmouth and eventually drifted 
off to other places and other things. Yet, while Wimpress failed here, 
his efforts to increase the holdings of the college library were quite 
successful. The number of volumes went from 80,000 to 1 21 ,000. 

Much of the same frankness is applied to the Gibson, Stine, and 
Freed years, and to the various other aspects of change at Monmouth 
College over the last few decades. All in all, the alumni of the 
institution will find this a helpful recounting of the past— their own 
past, in fact— and hopefully the book will draw their support to 
efforts on behalf of the college's survival. 

Victor Hicken 

Western Illinois University 

PRAIRIE. By Frank Lewis Marsh. Vantage Press, N.Y., 1978. Pp. 
304. $9.75. 

Prairie Tree is an affectionate story of the original settlers of a 
Mercer County farm in the area commonly known as the Marsh 
district. Using the journal/diary kept by his grandfather, Frank Marsh 
is able to present many incidents in the mid-1 850's as seen and 
experienced by the people of that time. His book offers insights into 
prairie farm purchases, settlement, and problems. Such firsthand 
accounts enable the reader to understand how hard it was to begin 
farming and living in western Illinois. 

The story is centered around the life of young William Marsh, 


who migrated to Illinois with his parents, the Mordecai Marshes, 
when he was twenty years old. It relates his experiences as a young 
man in the new community— as a helper to his father, as a young 
school teacher, and as a farmer on his own. The major part of the 
story ends in the years immediately following the Civil War, with the 
heaviest concentration of activity in 1853 to 1860, for in those years 
he taught, courted, married, and started farming. The later pages of 
the book quickly summarize the family from 1870 to the present 
time, with emphasis on their conversion to Seventh Day Adventism 
and the continuing of the family in its life and work in Mercer 
County and elsewhere. 

The book is of greatest interest to the people of Mercer County 
and the family descendants from Mordecai, but it does provide social 
history for the nineteenth-century rural America historian if he 
wades through the superfluous. Because he is a biologist, Frank 
Marsh digresses from time to time into matters of plant life and 
animal life that are interesting but distracting. 

The major shortcoming of the book is its style, which is outdated 
and adds difficulty to the reading. Moreover, the author has the 
annoying habit of referring to himself as "Frank" rather than simply 
saying, "I remember," or "I did this." In places the book reads 
easily, but for the most part it will be dull to the reader 
unacquainted with the Marsh family or the county. 

Daniel T. Johnson 
Western Illinois University 

ILLINOIS. Prepared by the Historic Sites Committee. Carthage, III.: 
Hancock County Historical Society Bicentennial Commision, 1979. 
Pp. xvi, 432. $20.00 

KNOX COUNTY, ILLINOIS. By Richard C. Welge. Knoxville, III.: 
Knox County Historical Sites, Inc., 1979. Pp. 96. $5.00. 

Two books have appeared within the last year which add greatly 
to our understanding and appreciation of Western Illinois' past. 
Profusely illustrated. Historic Sites and Structures of /-/ancocl< 
County, Illinois and Remnants of the Nineteenth Century 
Landscape: Knox County, Illinois are worthy additions to the 
literature on this region's culture. Both are products of broad 
support by local citizens interested in history and preservation, with 
the first having been entirely created through a group effort. They 
feature the man-made structures of our environment, yet they 
compliment each other in approach and emphasis. Historic Sites and 


Structures aims to "strengthen the readers' appreciation of the toil 
and dedication of our grandparents" (p. ix), while Remnants of the 
Nineteenth Century Landscape wants to "inspire people ... to look 
at their own home towns with new interest and pride" (p. 6). 

The format and the content of the two volumes fit their stated 
purposes. Historic Sites and Structures contains hundreds of 
photographs accompanied by brief historical explanations, while 
Remnants of the Nineteenth Century Landscape is a beautifully 
illustrated essay on local architecture. The illustrations differ 
accordingly. The Hancock County book consists of historical and 
contemporary photographs which feature a cross section of the 
county's buildings, with heavy emphasis on rural schools, churches 
and stores. Welge's book, on the other hand, is a carefully chosen 
collection of superb photographs designed to illustrate architectural 
trends as they left their mark on Knox County structures. The 
former is an encyclopedic listing of sites, some of which do not exist 
any more, while the latter is a visual survey of buildings that have 
survived into the present. Furthermore, the Hancock County volume 
is offered as an appendix and sequel to the Illinois sesquicentennial 
history of the county. Welge's book stands on its own. Consequently, 
Historic Sites and Structures abounds in details of location, name 
changes, and important dates, and the photographs feature, to a large 
extent, ordinary buildings. Welge, on the other hand, takes a broad 
view of the history and architecture of Knox County and tends to 
emphasize substantial buildings and a somewhat gilded way of life. 

Historic Sites and Structures is a comprehensive source book for 
the study of local history. It appears to be accurate and most useful 
because of the inclusion of good maps which pinpoint the location of 
sites. Its main draw-back is that some photographs, both historical 
and contemporary, did not reproduce well, and thus some visual 
information is lost. On the other hand. Remnants of the Nineteenth 
Century Landscape is a beautifully executed work designed to 
educate the public in the why's and wherefore's of historic 

Both of these fine volumes contain many previously unpublished 
photographs and new information. They are layman-oriented but 
include valuable data for scholarly research in the fields of local 
history, geography, and architecture. 

Gordana Rezab 

Western Illinois University 


MYRON J. FOGDE, Professor of Religion at Augustana College, is 
the author of a recent book entitled The Church Goes West (1977). 
He has also written various articles on the Protestant Church in 

VICTOR HICKEN is Distinguished Professor of History at Western 
Illinois University. Among his books are Illinois in the Civil War 
(1966) and The Purple and the Gold (1972), a history of WIU. A 
past president of the Illinois State Historical Society, he was Illinois 
Author of the Year in 1976. 

MARK A. PLUMMER, Professor of History at Illinois State 
University, has written numerous articles on American and East 
Asian history. He is also the author of Frontier Governor: Samuel J. 
Crawford of Kansas ( 1 971 ) . 

RONALD RAYMAN is an Associate Professor at Western Illinois 
University Libraries. An historian as well as a reference librarian, he 
has contributed numerous articles and book reviews to journals in 
history and library science. He is also an editorial consultant to The 
Annals of Iowa. 

WILLIAM URBAN, Professor of History at Monmouth College, is a 
medievalist whose second field of interest is western history. The 
author of five books— including a history of Monmouth College, 
reviewed in this issue— he has also published more than two dozen 
articles in a variety of historical journals.